In many materials, changes in chemical composition, pressure or temperature can induce metal to insulator transitions. It is recently observed in yttrium hydride, for example, changes from a shiny mirror (YH2) to a transparent window (YH3), which has important technological application in optical devices. We have tuned the above transition by choosing pressure instead of composition. Our predicted finding is confirmed by recent experiments and opens a new way to design optical switches.
The unique role that gold plays in society is to a large extent related to the fact that it is the most noble of all metals.We have studied the noble nature of gold by choosing pressure as tool. Our prediction shows that gold transforms from a face centered cubic to an hexagonal closed packed phase above 200 GPa whereas platinum, another noble metal, does not show any phase transition up to 500 GPa. This prediction has also been confirmed by experiments suggesting that platinum is more noble than gold.
The growing concern about climate change and fossil fuel availability, the direct conversion of solar irradiation into electricity appears to be an ideal alternative to conventional energy sources. Power generation by solar cells is a direct method of solar energy conversion. We report a new cubic phase of TiO2 which can be stabilized at ambient conditions. This phase has an absorption three or four orders of magnitude larger than the conventional state-of-the-art solar cell based on anatase TiO2. Therefore, we are introducing a well established material with a new structure for future generation solar cells. The same effect is also observed in cubic SnO2.
Electronic and optical properties of other materials such as BexZn1-xTe, RuO2 and IrO2 are also studied in present thesis. In particular, for BexZn1-xTe, we have used composition as a tool to tune the optical properties.