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  1. CsYbSe2 has an ideal triangular-lattice geometry with pronounced two-dimensionality, pseudospin-1/2 nature, and the absence of structural disorder. These excellent characteristics favor a quantum spin-liquid realization in this material. In this work, we applied quasihydrostatic compression methods to explore the structural behaviors. Our study reveals that CsYbSe2 undergoes a structural transition around 24 GPa, accompanied by a large volume collapse of ΔV /V0∼13%. The ambient hexagonal structure with the space group P63/mmcis lowered to the tetragonal structure (P4/mmm) under high pressure. Meanwhile, the color of CsYbSe2 changes gradually from red to black before the transition. Dramatic pressure-induced changes are clarified by the electronic structure calculations from the first principles, which indicate that the initial insulating ground state turns metallic in a squeezed lattice. These findings highlight Yb-based dichalcogenide delafossites as an intriguing material to probe novel quantum effects under high pressure. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 21, 2024
  2. A boron-rich boron–carbide material (B4+δC) was synthesized by spark plasma sintering of a ball-milled mixture of high-purity boron powder and graphitic carbon at a pressure of 7 MPa and a temperature of 1930 °C. This high-pressure, high-temperature synthesized material was recovered and characterized by X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, Vickers hardness measurements, and thermal oxidation studies. The X-ray diffraction studies revealed a single-phase rhombohedral structure (space group R-3m) with lattice parameters in hexagonal representation as a = 5.609 ± 0.007 Å and c = 12.082 ± 0.02 Å. The experimental lattice parameters result in a value of δ = 0.55, or the composition of the synthesized compound as B4.55C. The high-resolution scans of boron binding energy reveal the existence of a B-C bond at 188.5 eV. Raman spectroscopy reveals the existence of a 386 cm−1 vibrational mode representative of C-B-B linear chain formation due to excess boron in the lattice. The measured Vickers microhardness at a load of 200 gf shows a high hardness value of 33.8 ± 2.3 GPa. Thermal gravimetric studies on B4.55C were conducted at a temperature of 1300 °C in a compressed dry air environment, and its behavior is compared to other high-temperature ceramic materials such as high-entropy transition metal boride. The high neutron absorption cross section, high melting point, high mechanical strength, and thermal oxidation resistance make this material ideal for applications in extreme environments.

     
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  3. Transition-metal and rare-earth borides are of considerable interest due to their electronic, mechanical, and magnetic properties as well as their structural stability under extreme conditions. Here, we report on a series of high-pressure Raman and x-ray diffraction experiments on the cubic rare-earth hexaboride EuB6 to an ultrahigh pressure of 187 GPa in a diamond anvil cell. In EuB6, divalent europium ions occupy the corners of the cubic structure, which encloses a rigid boron-bonded cage. So far, no structural phase transitions have been reported, while the nanoindentation studies indicate amorphization in nanoscale shear bands during plastic deformation. Our x-ray diffraction studies have revealed that the ambient cubic phase of EuB6 shows broadening and splitting of diffraction peaks starting at 72 GPa and the broadening continuing to 187 GPa. The high-pressure phase is recovered on decompression, and the Raman spectroscopy of the recovered sample from 187 GPa shows a downward frequency shift and broadening of T2g, Eg, and A1g modes of boron octahedron. The density functional theory simulations of EuB6 at 100 GPa have identified five possible lowest energy crystal structures. The experimental x-ray diffraction data at high pressures is compared with the theoretical predictions and the role of structural distortions induced by shear stresses is also discussed.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 7, 2024
  4. Metal oxide thermal reduction, enabled by microwave-induced plasma, was used to synthesize high entropy borides (HEBs). This approach capitalized on the ability of a microwave (MW) plasma source to efficiently transfer thermal energy to drive chemical reactions in an argon-rich plasma. A predominantly single-phase hexagonal AlB2-type structural characteristic of HEBs was obtained by boro/carbothermal reduction as well as by borothermal reduction. We compare the microstructural, mechanical, and oxidation resistance properties using the two different thermal reduction approaches (i.e., with and without carbon as a reducing agent). The plasma-annealed HEB (Hf0.2, Zr0.2, Ti0.2, Ta0.2, Mo0.2)B2 made via boro/carbothermal reduction resulted in a higher measured hardness (38 ± 4 GPa) compared to the same HEB made via borothermal reduction (28 ± 3 GPa). These hardness values were consistent with the theoretical value of ~33 GPa obtained by first-principles simulations using special quasi-random structures. Sample cross-sections were evaluated to examine the effects of the plasma on structural, compositional, and mechanical homogeneity throughout the HEB thickness. MW-plasma-produced HEBs synthesized with carbon exhibit a reduced porosity, higher density, and higher average hardness when compared to HEBs made without carbon. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  5. Abstract High pressure is an effective tool to induce exotic quantum phenomena in magnetic topological insulators by controlling the interplay of magnetic order and topological state. This work presents a comprehensive high-pressure study of the crystal structure and magnetic ground state up to 62 GPa in an intrinsic topological magnet EuSn 2 P 2 . With a combination of high resolution X-ray diffraction, 151 Eu synchrotron Mössbauer spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, molecular orbital calculations, and electronic band structure calculations, it has been revealed that pressure drives EuSn 2 P 2 from a rhombohedral crystal to an amorphous phase at 36 GPa accompanied by a fourfold enhancement of magnetic ordering temperature. In the pressure-induced amorphous phase, Eu ions take an intermediate valence state. The drastic enhancement of magnetic ordering temperature from 30 K at ambient pressure to 130 K at 41.2 GPa resulting from Ruderman–Kittel–Kasuya–Yosida (RKKY) interactions likely attributes to the stronger Eu–Sn interaction at high pressure. These rich results demonstrate that EuSn 2 P 2 is an ideal platform to study the correlation of the enhanced RKKY interactions, disordered lattice, intermediate valence, and topological state. 
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  6. The compression behavior of the hexagonal AlB2 phase of Hafnium Diboride (HfB2) was studied in a diamond anvil cell to a pressure of 208 GPa by axial X-ray diffraction employing platinum as an internal pressure standard. The deformation behavior of HfB2 was studied by radial X-ray diffraction technique to 50 GPa, which allows for measurement of maximum differential stress or compressive yield strength at high pressures. The hydrostatic compression curve deduced from radial X-ray diffraction measurements yielded an ambient-pressure volume V0 = 29.73 Å3/atom and a bulk modulus K0 = 282 GPa. Density functional theory calculations showed ambient-pressure volume V0 = 29.84 Å3/atom and bulk modulus K0 = 262 GPa, which are in good agreement with the hydrostatic experimental values. The measured compressive yield strength approaches 3% of the shear modulus at a pressure of 50 GPa. The theoretical strain-stress calculation shows a maximum shear stress τmax~39 GPa along the (1−10) [110] direction of the hexagonal lattice of HfB2, which thereby can be an incompressible high strength material for extreme-environment applications. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The compression behavior of osmium metal was investigated up to 280 GPa (volume compression V/Vo =0.725) under nonhydrostatic conditions at ambient temperature using angle dispersive axial x-ray diffraction (A-XRD) with a diamond anvil cell (DAC). In addition, shear strength of osmium was measured to 170 GPa using radial x-ray diffraction (R-XRD) technique in DAC. Both diffraction techniques in DAC employed platinum as an internal pressure standard. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were also performed, and the computed lattice parameters and volumes under compression are in good agreement with the experiments. DFT predicts a monotonous increase in axial ratio (c/a) with pressure and the structural anomalies of less than 1 % in (c/a) ratio below 150 GPa were not reproduced in theoretical calculations and hydrostatic measurements. The measured value of shear strength of osmium (τ) approaches a limiting value of 6 GPa above a pressure of 50 GPa in contrast to theoretical predictions of 24 GPa and is likely due to imperfections in polycrystalline samples. DFT calculations also enable the studies of shear and tensile deformations. The theoretical ideal shear stress is found along the (001)[1-10] shear direction with the maximal shear stress ~24 GPa at critical strain ~0.13. 
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  8. Abstract

    We build random forests models to predict elastic properties and mechanical hardness of a compound, using only its chemical formula as input. The model training uses over 10,000 target compounds and 60 features based on stoichiometric attributes, elemental properties, orbital occupations, and ionic bonding levels. Using the models, we construct triangular graphs for B-C-N compounds to map out their bulk and shear moduli, as well as hardness values. The graphs indicate that a 1:1 B-N ratio can lead to various superhard compositions. We also validate the machine learning results by evolutionary structure prediction and density functional theory. Our study shows that BC10N, B4C5N3, and B2C3N exhibit dynamically stable phases with hardness values >40 GPa, which are superhard materials that potentially could be synthesized by low-temperature plasma methods.

     
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