Semiconductor-metal transition in selenium under shock compression

Research paper by S. D. Gilev

Indexed on: 01 Jul '06Published on: 01 Jul '06Published in: Technical Physics


Phase transitions in selenium are studied by time-resolved measurements of the electrical conductivity under shock compression at a pressure of up to 32 GPa. The pressure dependence of the electrical conductivity (σ(P)) has two portions: a sharp increase at P < 21 GPa and a plateau at P > 21 GPa. The experimental data and the temperature estimates indicate that, at P < 21 GPa, selenium is in the semiconductor state. The energy gap of semiconducting selenium decreases substantially under compression. At P > 21 GPa, the electrical conductivity saturates at ∼104 Ω−1 cm−1. Such a high value of the electrical conductivity shows the effective semiconductor-metal transition taking place in shock-compressed selenium. Experiments with samples having different initial densities demonstrate the effect of temperature on the phase transition. For example, powdered selenium experiences the transition at a lower shock pressure than solid selenium. Comparison of the temperature estimates with the phase diagram of selenium shows that powdered selenium metallizes in a shock wave as a result of melting. The most plausible mechanism behind the shock-induced semiconductor-metal transition in solid selenium is melting or the transition in the solid phase. Under shock compression, the metallic phase arises without a noticeable time delay. After relief, the metallic phase persists for a time, delaying the reverse transition.