Pressure-induced structural phase transitions have been studied in CdSe, CdS, InP and Si semiconductor nanocrystals. Nanocrystals transform via single nucleation of the phase transition with a kinetic barrier that increases in increasing cluster size. The structural transition path causes a shape change in the nanocrystals, which dictates the surface energy and thus the kinetic and thermodynamic stability of the transformed nanocrystal. These finite size effects can be used to tune the metastability of the nanocrystals versus pressure. Enhanced metastability allows structural and optical measurements in a regime inaccessible to the bulk solid, as well as possible recovery of the dense high pressure phase to atmospheric pressure.
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