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Polishchuk, Iryna; Bianco-Stein, Nuphar; Lang, Arad; Kurashvili, Mariam; Toroker, Maytal Caspary; Katsman, Alexander; Feldmann, Jochen and Pokroy, Boaz (2020): Strong Band Gap Blueshift in Copper (I) Oxide Semiconductor via Bioinspired Route. In: Advanced Functional Materials, Vol. 30, No. 13, 1910405

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Semiconductors have numerous applications in both science and technology. Several methods have been developed to engineer their band gap, which is one of the most important parameters of semiconductors. Here, it is shown that the incorporation of various amino acids into the crystal lattice of copper (I) oxide, akin to the way living organisms incorporate organic macromolecules into minerals during biomineralization, leads to significant shrinkage in the volume of the host unit cell and a strong blueshift in the band gap of up to approximate to 18%. In examining the potential location of the bio-organic molecules within the inorganic host's lattice, a very good fit between the proposed model of incorporation and experimental findings is found. The bioinspired phenomenon of band gap widening is thought to be attributable to the void-induced quantum confinement effect, even though observed in micrometer-sized crystals. This hypothesis is supported by developing a tight-binding model that is found to fit well with the experimental data. The outcome of this research could profoundly impact the fields of light-emitting and spin-based devices as well as opens up a new bioinspired route to tune the band gap of semiconductors.

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