The blocking of ion transport at interfaces strongly limits the performance of electrochemical nanodevices for energy applications. The barrier is believed to arise from space-charge regions generated by mobile ions by analogy to semiconductor junctions. Here we show that something different is at play by studying ion transport in a bicrystal of yttria (9% mol) stabilized zirconia (YSZ), an emblematic oxide ion conductor. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) provides structure and composition at atomic resolution, with the sensitivity to directly reveal the oxygen ion profile. We find that Y segregates to the grain boundary at Zr sites, together with a depletion of oxygen that is confined to a small length scale of around 0.5 nm. Contrary to the main thesis of the space-charge model, there exists no evidence of a long-range O vacancy depletion layer. Combining ion transport measurements across a single grain boundary by nanoscale electrochemical strain microscopy (ESM), broadband dielectric spectroscopy measurements, and density functional calculations, we show that grain-boundary-induced electronic states act as acceptors, resulting in a negatively charged core. Besides the possible effect of the modified chemical bonding, this negative charge gives rise to an additional barrier for ion transport at the grain boundary.

Paving the way to nanoionics: atomic origin of barriers for ionic transport through interfaces

ROCCI, MIRKO;
2015

Abstract

The blocking of ion transport at interfaces strongly limits the performance of electrochemical nanodevices for energy applications. The barrier is believed to arise from space-charge regions generated by mobile ions by analogy to semiconductor junctions. Here we show that something different is at play by studying ion transport in a bicrystal of yttria (9% mol) stabilized zirconia (YSZ), an emblematic oxide ion conductor. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) provides structure and composition at atomic resolution, with the sensitivity to directly reveal the oxygen ion profile. We find that Y segregates to the grain boundary at Zr sites, together with a depletion of oxygen that is confined to a small length scale of around 0.5 nm. Contrary to the main thesis of the space-charge model, there exists no evidence of a long-range O vacancy depletion layer. Combining ion transport measurements across a single grain boundary by nanoscale electrochemical strain microscopy (ESM), broadband dielectric spectroscopy measurements, and density functional calculations, we show that grain-boundary-induced electronic states act as acceptors, resulting in a negatively charged core. Besides the possible effect of the modified chemical bonding, this negative charge gives rise to an additional barrier for ion transport at the grain boundary.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11384/61485
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