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Frustration and Atomic Ordering in a Monolayer Semiconductor Alloy


Frustrated interactions can lead to short-range ordering arising from incompatible interactions of fundamental physical quantities with the underlying lattice. The simplest example is the triangular lattice of spins with antiferromagnetic interactions, where the nearest-neighbor spin-spin interactions cannot simultaneously be energy minimized. Here we show that engineering frustrated interactions is a possible route for controlling structural and electronic phenomena in semiconductor alloys. Using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy in conjunction with density functional theory calculations, we demonstrate atomic ordering in a two-dimensional semiconductor alloy as a result of the competition between geometrical constraints and nearest-neighbor interactions. Statistical analyses uncover the presence of short-range ordering in the lattice. In addition, we show how the induced ordering can be used as another degree of freedom to considerably modify the band gap of monolayer semiconductor alloys.

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