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Groundbreaking Study Maps Out Paths to New Nitride Materials

A study led by Wenhao Sun of Berkeley Lab features a large, interactive stability map of the ternary nitrides, highlighting nitride compositions where experimental discovery is promising in blue. (Credit: Wenhao Sun/Berkeley Lab)

This press release was adapted from the original release published by National Renewable Energy Laboratory. View the original release.

Formed by elements combining with nitrogen, nitrides can possess unique properties with potential applications from semiconductors to industrial coatings. But before nitrides can be put to use, they first must be discovered – and the odds of finding them in nature are slim.

Now, your chances of discovering new nitrides just got better with a groundbreaking Nature Materials study led by Berkeley Lab in close collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and a number of other institutions.

The study features a large, interactive stability map of the ternary nitrides, highlighting nitride compositions where experimental discovery is promising in blue. So far, the map has yielded the prediction of 244 new stable ternary nitride compounds.

“For ancient explorers, sailing into the unknown was a very risky endeavor, and in the same way, exploration of new chemical spaces can also be risky,” explained Wenhao Sun, lead author of the paper and staff scientist at Berkeley Lab. “If you don’t find a new material where you are looking, it can be a big waste of time and effort. Our chemical map can help to guide the exploratory synthesis of nitrides, just as maps helped to guide explorers, allowing them to navigate better.”

–Wayne Hicks