Phosphosulfide semiconductors for optoelectronics and solar energy conversion

Lena A. Mittmann, Andrea Crovetto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debateResearchpeer-review

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Inorganic phosphosulfides—materials containing phosphorus, sulfur, and at least one metal—are a vast and chemically-versatile family of materials. Benefiting from a wide range of possible phosphorus oxidation states, phosphosulfide semiconductors exist as thiophosphate compounds with various types of P-S polyanions, as genuine multi-anion compounds with or without P-P bonds, as solid solutions, and as many intermediate cases. Since metal phosphides and metal sulfides are among the highest-performing optoelectronic semiconductors, it seems reasonable to consider the phosphosulfide family as a potential pool of materials for solar cells, photoelectrochemical cells, and light-emitting diodes. Nevertheless, phosphosulfide semiconductors have very rarely been characterized with these applications in mind. In this perspective article, we reflect on the potential applicability of known and hypothetical phosphosulfides as light absorbers and emitters in optoelectronic devices. First, we distill the existing knowledge accessible through the Materials Project database, finding promising phosphosulfides among the compounds already present in the database and identifying what we see as the general advantages and challenges of phosphosulfides as optoelectronic materials. Then, we propose three concrete research directions aimed at finding novel high-quality phosphosulfide semiconductors with high light absorption coefficients, high carrier mobilities, and long carrier lifetimes. In particular, we argue that the versatility of phosphorus in this class of materials could potentially be exploited to engineer defect tolerance. Finally, we describe and explain the advantages of a custom synthesis setup dedicated to high-throughput exploration of thin-film phosphosulfides.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021002
JournalJPhys Materials
Issue number2
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Materials discovery
  • Multi-anion semiconductors
  • Phosphides
  • Solar cells
  • Sulfides
  • Thiophosphates
  • Water splitting


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