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Influence of Nonstoichiometry on Proton Conductivity in Thin-Film Yttrium-Doped Barium Zirconate

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journal contribution
posted on 11.01.2018, 00:00 by Jilai Ding, Janakiraman Balachandran, Xiahan Sang, Wei Guo, Gabriel M. Veith, Craig A. Bridges, Christopher M. Rouleau, Jonathan D. Poplawsky, Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb, Panchapakesan Ganesh, Raymond R. Unocic
Proton-conducting perovskites have been widely studied because of their potential application as solid electrolytes in intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells. Structural and chemical heterogeneities can develop during synthesis, device fabrication, or service, which can profoundly affect proton transport. Here, we use time-resolved Kelvin probe force microscopy, scanning transmission electron microscopy, atom probe tomography, and density functional theory calculations to intentionally introduce Ba-deficient planar and spherical defects and link the resultant atomic structure with proton transport behavior in both stoichiometric and nonstoichiometric epitaxial, yttrium-doped barium zirconate thin films. The defects were intentionally induced through high-temperature annealing treatment, while maintaining the epitaxial single crystalline structure of the films, with an overall relaxation in the atomic structure. The annealed samples showed smaller magnitudes of local lattice distortions because of the formation of proton polarons, thereby leading to decreased proton-trapping effect. This resulted in a decrease in the activation energy for proton transport, leading to faster proton transport.