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Clathrates and beyond: Low-density allotropy in crystalline silicon
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In its common, thermodynamically stable state, silicon adopts the same crystal structure as diamond. Although only a few alternative allotropic structures have been discovered and studied over the past six decades, advanced methods for structure prediction have recently suggested a remarkably rich low-density phase space that has only begun to be explored. The electronic properties of these low-density allotropes of silicon, predicted by first-principles calculations, indicate that these materials could offer a pathway to improving performance and reducing cost in a variety of electronic and energy-related applications. In this focus review, we provide an introduction and overview of recent theoretical and experimental results related to low-density allotropes of silicon, highlighting the significant potential these materials may have for technological applications, provided substantial challenges to their experimental preparation can be overcome.
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