Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2017

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Puckered orthorhombic crystals, such as black phosphorus and group IV monochalcogenides, are attracting tremendous attention because of their new exotic properties, which are of great interests for fundamental science and novel applications. Unlike those well studied layered hexagonal materials such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides, the puckered orthorhombic crystals possess highly asymmetrical in-plane crystal structures. Understanding the unique properties emerginge from their low symmetries is an intriguing and useful process, which gives insight into experimental observation and sheds light on manipulating their properties. In this thesis, we study and predict various properties of orthorhombic materials by using appropriate theoretical techniques such as first-principles calculations, Monte-Carlo simulations, and k∙p models.

In the first part of the thesis, we deal with the anisotropic electric and thermal properties of a typical puckered orthorhombic crystal, black phosphorus. We first study the electric properties in monolayer and few-layer black phosphorus, where the unique, anisotropic electrical conductance is founded. Furthermore, we find that the anisotropy of the electrical conductance can be rotated by 90° through applying appropriate uniaxial or biaxial strain. Beyond electrical conductance, we, for the first time, predict that the thermal conductance of black phosphorus is also anisotropic and, particularly, the preferred conducting direction is perpendicular to the preferred electrical conducting direction. Within the reasonable estimation regime, the thermoelectric figure of merit (ZT) ultimately reaches 1 at room temperature using only moderate doping.

The second part of this thesis focuses on the electronic polarization of non-centrosymmetric puckered materials-group IV monochalcogenide. We propose that monolayer group IV monochalcogenides are a new class of two-dimensional (2D) ferroelectric materials with spontaneous in-plane polarization. We have developed an effective mean-field method for Monte Carlo simulations to calculate the phase transition of ferroelectricity. Moreover, we point out that the piezoelectric effect of these monolayer materials is dramatically enhanced, and the piezoelectric coefficient is about two orders of magnitude larger than that of other 2D and bulk materials.

In the last part of thesis, we study the topological phase transition in compressed black phosphorus. In this study, we use the k∙p model to figure out the quantum phase transition of black phosphorus from a normal insulator to a Dirac nodal line semimetal. Via the low-energy effective Hamiltonian, a novel “pseudo-spin-orbit” coupling mechanism is proposed to explain such a phase transition in this material with the mirror symmetry. By first principles simulations, we predict that applying a moderate uniaxial or hydrostatic pressure (>0.6 GPa) on bulk or multilayer black phosphorus can diminish its bandgap and produce two-dimensional Dirac cones, which has been confirmed by recent experiments.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Li Yang

Committee Members

Anders E. Carlsson, Erik Henriksen, Zohar Nussinov, Lan Yang,


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