Susan Biering

Doctor of Philosophy, (Physics)
Study Completed: 2011
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
The unusual structure of the mercury chalcogenides: Relativistic effects in the solid state

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Ms Biering''sresearch explored the origin of the unique solid-state structures and electronic properties found in mercury chalcogenides. The complicated crystallographic properties observed for the mercury chalcogenides are in stark contrast to the behaviour of the lighter zinc and cadmium chalcogenides, which is surprisingly against the trend suggested by the periodic table of elements. Carrying out comprehensive quantum chemical simulations to investigate several ambient as well as high-pressure phases of zinc, cadmium and mercury chalcogenides, Ms. Biering was able to show for the first time that the unusual behaviour of the mercury chalcogenides is caused by the effects of relativity due to the heavy mercury nucleus. Understanding why solids form in specific ways causing particular properties can be crucial to manipulating them in a targeted way for special applications.

Distinguished Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger
Professor Joachim Brand

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