Sunday, May 19, 2013

1305.3385 (Tobias Scherb et al.)

Nanoscale order in the frustrated mixed conductor

Tobias Scherb, Simon A. J. Kimber, Christiane Stephan, Paul F. Henry, Gerhard Schumacher, Justus Just, Sonia Escolastico, Jose M. Serra, Janka Seeger, Adrian H. Hill, John Banhart
We report a comprehensive investigation of the average and local structure of La$_{5.4}$WO$_{12-\delta}$, which has excellent mixed proton, electron and oxide ion conduction suitable for device applications. Synchrotron X-ray and neutron powder diffraction show that a cubic fluorite supercell describes the average structure, with highly disordered lanthanum and oxide positions. On average the tungsten sites are six-fold coordinated, and we detect a trace (4.4(2) %) of anti-site disorder. In addition to sharp Bragg reflections, strong diffuse neutron scattering is observed, which hints at short-range order. We consider plausible local configurations, and show that the defect chemistry implies a simple 'chemical exchange' interaction that favours ordered WO6 octahedra. Our local model is confirmed by synchrotron x-ray pair distribution function analysis and EXAFS experiments performed at the La K and W L3-edges. We show that ordered domains of around ca. 3.5 nm are found, implying that mixed conduction in La$_{5.4}$WO$_{12-\delta}$? is associated with a defective glassy-like anion sublattice. The origins of this ground state are proposed to lie in the non-bipartite nature of the fcc lattice and the pairwise interactions which link the orientation of neighbouring octahedral WO6 sites. This 'function through frustration' could provide a means of designing new mixed conductors.
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