Typical ductile materials are metals, which deform by the motion of defects like dislocations in association with non-directional metallic bonds. Unfortunately, this textbook mechanism does not operate in most inorganic semiconductors at ambient temperature, thus severely limiting the development of much-needed flexible electronic devices. We found a shear-deformation mechanism in a recently discovered ductile semiconductor, monoclinic-silver sulfide (Ag2S), which is defect-free, omni-directional, and preserving perfect crystallinity. Our first-principles molecular dynamics simulations elucidate the ductile deformation mechanism in monoclinic-Ag2S under six types of shear systems. Planer mass movement of sulfur atoms plays an important role for the remarkable structural recovery of sulfur-sublattice. This in turn arises from a distinctively high symmetry of the anion-sublattice in Ag2S, which is not seen in other brittle silver chalcogenides. Such mechanistic and lattice-symmetric understanding provides a guideline for designing even higher-performance ductile inorganic semiconductors.
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