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Hexagonal nanoporous germanium through surfactant-driven self-assembly of Zintl clusters


Surfactant templating is a method that has successfully been used to produce nanoporous inorganic structures from a wide range of oxide-based material1,2,3,4,5. Co-assembly of inorganic precursor molecules with amphiphilic organic molecules is followed first by inorganic condensation to produce rigid amorphous frameworks and then, by template removal, to produce mesoporous solids. A range of periodic surfactant/semiconductor and surfactant/metal composites have also been produced by similar methods6,7,8,9,10,11, but for virtually all the non-oxide semiconducting phases, the surfactant unfortunately cannot be removed to generate porous materials. Here we show that it is possible to use surfactant-driven self-organization of soluble Zintl clusters to produce periodic, nanoporous versions of classic semiconductors such as amorphous Ge or Ge/Si alloys. Specifically, we use derivatives of the anionic Ge94- cluster12,13,14, a compound whose use in the synthesis of nanoscale materials is established15. Moreover, because of the small size, high surface area, and flexible chemistry of these materials, we can tune optical properties in these nanoporous semiconductors through quantum confinement16,17, by adsorption of surface species, or by altering the elemental composition of the inorganic framework. Because the semiconductor surface is exposed and accessible in these materials, they have the potential to interact with a range of species in ways that could eventually lead to new types of sensors or other novel nanostructured devices.

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Figure 1: TEM and X-ray diffraction on hexagonal Ge.
Figure 2: EXAFS data on template Ge materials.
Figure 3: Surface area and optical characterization of nanoporous Ge.


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This work was supported by the National Science Foundation and by the Office of Naval Research. This manuscript includes data collected at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, which is operated by the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, with additional support from SSRL-SMB. SHT is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow.

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Correspondence to Sarah H. Tolbert.

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Supplementary Figures

This file contains Supplementary Figures 1–4, showing more detail on X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, solution phase oxidation, and nitrogen porosimetry for surfactant templated nanoporous germanium (PDF 177 kb)

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Sun, D., Riley, A., Cadby, A. et al. Hexagonal nanoporous germanium through surfactant-driven self-assembly of Zintl clusters. Nature 441, 1126–1130 (2006).

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