Solid-oxide fuel/electrolyzer cells are limited by a dearth of electrolyte materials with low ohmic loss and an incomplete understanding of the structure–property relationships that would enable the rational design of better materials. Here, using epitaxial thin-film growth, synchrotron radiation, impedance spectroscopy, and density-functional theory, the impact of structural parameters (i.e., unit-cell volume and octahedral rotations) on ionic conductivity is delineated in La0.9Sr0.1Ga0.95Mg0.05O3– δ. As compared to the zero-strain state, compressive strain reduces the unit-cell volume while maintaining large octahedral rotations, resulting in a strong reduction of ionic conductivity, while tensile strain increases the unit-cell volume while quenching octahedral rotations, resulting in a negligible effect on the ionic conductivity. Calculations reveal that larger unit-cell volumes and octahedral rotations decrease migration barriers and create low-energy migration pathways, respectively. The desired combination of large unit-cell volume and octahedral rotations is normally contraindicated, but through the creation of superlattice structures both expanded unit-cell volume and large octahedral rotations are experimentally realized, which result in an enhancement of the ionic conductivity. All told, the potential to tune ionic conductivity with structure alone by a factor of ≈2.5 at around 600 °C is observed, which sheds new light on the rational design of ion-conducting perovskite electrolytes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering