Transmission electron microscopy study of Pb-depleted disks in PbTe-based alloys


Even though the crystal structure of lead telluride (PbTe) has been extensively studied for many years, we discovered that the structure has a strong tendency to form Pb-depleted disks on 001 planes. These disks are around 2–5 nm in diameter and less than 0.5 nm in thickness, with a volume density of around 9 × 1017 cm−3, resulting in lattice strain fields (3–20 nm) on both sides of the disks along their normal directions. Moreover, such disks were also observed in Pb-rich Pb1.3Te, Pb-deficient PbTe1.3, and thallium (Tl)-doped Tl0.01Pb0.99Te and Tl0.02Pb0.98Te crystals. Because of the effects of diffraction contrast imaging by transmission electron microscopy and orientations of the crystals, these native lattice strain fields were incorrectly recognized as precipitates or nanoinclusions in PbTe-based materials. This discovery provides new insight into the formation mechanism of the precipitates or nanoinclusions in PbTe-based materials.

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The work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under award no. DE-FG02-08ER46516 (G.C. and Z.F.R.).

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Correspondence to Gang Chen.

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Wang, H., Zhang, Q., Yu, B. et al. Transmission electron microscopy study of Pb-depleted disks in PbTe-based alloys. Journal of Materials Research 26, 912–916 (2011).

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