Pyrite (FeS2), a semiconductor composed of inexpensive, non-toxic elements, has a band gap of ∼0.95 eV and an absorption coefficient higher than conventional direct band gap semiconductors, including GaAs. These facts have inspired the use of pyrite as a potential candidate for terawatt-scale photovoltaic systems. However, there has been limited progress synthesizing thin films of sufficient quality to produce efficient solar cells. Here we describe the layer-by-layer growth of stoichiometric, single-phase pyrite thin films on heated substrates using sequential evaporation of Fe under high vacuum followed by sulfidation at pressures ranging from 1 mTorr to 1 Torr. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy reveals high-quality, defect-free pyrite grains. We demonstrate that epitaxial pyrite layers can be deposited with this method on natural pyrite substrates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7392-7398
Number of pages7
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number19
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Epitaxy
  • Layer-by-layer growth
  • Pyrite
  • Thermochemistry
  • Thin films

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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