OPEN Nature communications | 14 May 2016
A Hirata, S Kohara, T Asada, M Arao, C Yogi, H Imai, Y Tan, T Fujita and M Chen
Solid silicon monoxide is an amorphous material which has been commercialized for many functional applications. However, the amorphous structure of silicon monoxide is a long-standing question because of the uncommon valence state of silicon in the oxide. It has been deduced that amorphous silicon monoxide undergoes an unusual disproportionation by forming silicon- and silicon-dioxide-like regions. Nevertheless, the direct experimental observation is still missing. Here we report the amorphous structure characterized by angstrom-beam electron diffraction, supplemented by synchrotron X-ray scattering and computer simulations. In addition to the theoretically predicted amorphous silicon and silicon-dioxide clusters, suboxide-type tetrahedral coordinates are detected by angstrom-beam electron diffraction at silicon/silicon-dioxide interfaces, which provides compelling experimental evidence on the atomic-scale disproportionation of amorphous silicon monoxide. Eventually we develop a heterostructure model of the disproportionated silicon monoxide which well explains the distinctive structure and properties of the amorphous material.
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