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Condens. Matter 2018, 3(3), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/condmat3030020

On the Nanoscale Structure of KxFe2−yCh2 (Ch = S, Se): A Neutron Pair Distribution Function View

1
Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser, Foundation for Research and Technology—Hellas, Vassilika Vouton, 711 10 Heraklion, Greece
2
Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA
3
Neutron Scattering Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA
Present Address: Department of Physics, Renmin University, Beijing 100872, China.
Present Address: Forschungszentrum Jülich, JCNS, D-52425 Jülich, Germany.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 June 2018 / Revised: 26 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 3 July 2018
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Abstract

Comparative exploration of the nanometer-scale atomic structure of KxFe2−yCh2 (Ch = S, Se) was performed using neutron total scattering-based atomic pair distribution function (PDF) analysis of 5 K powder diffraction data in relation to physical properties. Whereas KxFe2−ySe2 is a superconductor with a transition temperature of about 32 K, the isostructural sulphide analogue is not, which instead displays a spin glass semiconducting behavior at low temperatures. The PDF analysis explores phase separated and disordered structural models as candidate descriptors of the low temperature data. For both materials, the nanoscale structure is well described by the iron (Fe)-vacancy-disordered K2Fe5−yCh5 (I4/m) model containing excess Fe. An equally good description of the data is achieved by using a phase separated model comprised of I4/m vacancy-ordered and I4/mmm components. The I4/mmm component appears as a minority phase in the structure of both KxFe2−ySe2 and KxFe2−yS2, and with similar contribution, implying that the phase ratio is not a decisive factor influencing the lack of superconductivity in the latter. Comparison of structural parameters of the Fe-vacancy-disordered model indicates that the replacement of selenium (Se) by sulphur (S) results in an appreciable reduction in the Fe-Ch interatomic distances and anion heights, while simultaneously increasing the irregularity of FeCh4 tetrahedra, suggesting the more significant influence of these factors. Structural features are also compared to the non-intercalated FeSe and FeS parent phases, providing further information for the discussion about the influence of the lattice degrees of freedom on the observed properties in layered iron chalcogenides. View Full-Text
Keywords: neutron pair distribution function (PDF); intercalated iron superconductors; anion height; tetrahedron regularity neutron pair distribution function (PDF); intercalated iron superconductors; anion height; tetrahedron regularity
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Mangelis, P.; Lei, H.; McDonnell, M.T.; Feygenson, M.; Petrovic, C.; Bozin, E.S.; Lappas, A. On the Nanoscale Structure of KxFe2−yCh2 (Ch = S, Se): A Neutron Pair Distribution Function View. Condens. Matter 2018, 3, 20.

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