Liquid-like cationic sub-lattice in copper selenide clusters

Sarah L. White, Progna Banerjee, Prashant K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Super-ionic solids, which exhibit ion mobilities as high as those in liquids or molten salts, have been employed as solid-state electrolytes in batteries, improved thermoelectrics and fast-ion conductors in super-capacitors and fuel cells. Fast-ion transport in many of these solids is supported by a disordered, 'liquid-like' sub-lattice of cations mobile within a rigid anionic sub-lattice, often achieved at high temperatures or pressures via a phase transition. Here we show that ultrasmall clusters of copper selenide exhibit a disordered cationic sub-lattice under ambient conditions unlike larger nanocrystals, where Cu+ ions and vacancies form an ordered super-structure similar to the bulk solid. The clusters exhibit an unusual cationic sub-lattice arrangement wherein octahedral sites, which serve as bridges for cation migration, are stabilized by compressive strain. The room-temperature liquid-like nature of the Cu+ sub-lattice combined with the actively tunable plasmonic properties of the Cu2 Se clusters make them suitable as fast electro-optic switches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14514
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Feb 20 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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