3 Jun 2017

Literature Discussion of "A stable compound of helium and sodium at high pressure"

Submitted by Katherine Nicole Crowder, University of Mary Washington
Evaluation Methods: 

Students could be evaluated based on their participation in the in-class discussion or on their submitted written answers to assigned questions.

Evaluation Results: 

This LO has not been used in a class at this point. Evaluation results will be uploaded as it is used (by Spring 2018 at the latest).


This paper describes the synthesis of a stable compound of sodium and helium at very high pressures. The paper uses computational methods to predict likely compounds with helium, then describe a synthetic protocol to make the thermodynamically favored Na2He compound. The compound has a fluorite structure and is an electride with the delocalization of 2e- into the structure.

This paper would be appropriate after discussion of solid state structures and band theory.

The questions are divided into categories and have a wide range of levels.

Dong, X.; Oganov, A. R.; Goncharov, A. F.; Stavrou, E.; Lobanov, S.; Saleh, G.; Qian, G.-R.; Zhu, Q.; Gatti, C.; Deringer, V. L.; et al. A stable compound of helium and sodium at high pressure. Nature Chemistry 2017, 9 (5), 440–445 DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2716.

Learning Goals: 

After reading and discussing this paper, students will be able to

  • Describe the solid state structure of a novel compound using their knowledge of unit cells and ionic crystals
  • Apply band theory to a specific material
  • Describe how XRD is used to determine solid state structure
  • Describe the bonding in an electride structure
  • Apply periodic trends to compare/explain reactivity
Implementation Notes: 

The questions are divided into categories (comprehensive questions, atomic and molecular properties, solid state structure, electronic structure and other topics) that may or may not be appropriate for your class. To cover all of the questions, you will probably need at least two class periods. Adapt the assignment as you see fit.

CrystalMaker software can be used to visualize the compound. ICE model kits can also be used to build the compound using the template for a Heusler alloy.

Time Required: 
2 class periods
3 Jun 2017

An ion exchange method to produce metastable wurtzite metal sulfide nanocrystals

Submitted by Janet Schrenk, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Evaluation Methods: 

Evaluation methods are at the discretion of the instructor. For example, you may ask students to provide written answers to the questions, evaluate whether they participated in class discussion, or ask students to present their answers to specific questions to the class.


In this literature discussion, students use a paper from the literature to explore the synthesis, structure, characterization (powder XRD, EDS and TEM) and energetics associated with the production of a metastable wurtzite CoS phase. Students also are asked define key terms and acronyms used in the paper; identify the goal of the experiments and determine if the authors met their goal. They examine the fundamental concepts around the key crystal structures available.  


Preserving Both Anion and Cation Sublattice Features during a Nanocrystal Cation-Exchange Reaction: Synthesis of a Metastable Wurtzite-Type CoS and MnS

Powell, A.E., Hodges J.M., Schaak, R.E. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 471-474.



There is an in class activitiy specifically written for this paper. 

Learning Goals: 

In answering these questions, a student will be able to…

  • define important scientific terms and acronyms associated with the paper;

  • describe the rocksalt, NiAs, wurtzite, and zinc blende in terms of anion packing and cation coordination;

  • differentiate between the structure types described in the paper;

  • explain the difference between thermodynamically stable and metastable phases and relate it to a free energy diagram; and

  • describe the structural and composition information obtained from EDS, powder XRD, and TEM experiments.

Implementation Notes: 

This learning object was created at the 2017 IONiC Workshop on VIPEr and Literature Discussion. It has not yet been used in class.

Time Required: 
50 minutes


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