Impact of Aliovalent Alkaline-Earth metal solutes on Ceria Grain Boundaries: A density functional theory study

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Abstract

Ceria has proven to be an excellent ion-transport and ion-exchange material when used in polycrystalline form and with a high-concentration of aliovalent doped cations. Despite its widespread application, the impact of atomic-scale defects in this material are scarcely studied and poorly understood. In this article, using first-principles simulations, we provide a fundamental understanding of the atomic-structure, thermodynamic and electronic properties of undoped grain-boundaries (GBs) and alkaline-earth metal (AEM) doped GBs in ceria. Using density-functional theory simulations, with a GGA+U functional, we find the Σ3 (111)/[1¯01] GB is energetically more stable than the Σ3 (121)/[1¯01] GB due to the larger atomic coherency in the Σ3 (111)/[1¯01] GB plane. We dope the GBs with ∼20% [M]GB (M=Be, Mg, Ca, Sr, and Ba) and find that the GB energies have a parabolic dependence on the size of solutes, the interfacial strain and the packing density of the GB. We see a stabilization of the GBs upon Ca, Sr and Ba doping whereas Be and Mg render them energetically unstable. The electronic density of states reveal that no defect states are present in or above the band gap of the AEM doped ceria, which is highly conducive to maintain low electronic mobility in this ionic conductor. The electronic properties, unlike the energetic properties, exhibit complex inter-dependence on the structure and chemistry of the host and the solutes. This work makes advances in the atomic-scale understanding of aliovalent cation doped ceria GBs serving as an anchor to future studies that can focus on understanding and improving ionic-transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116481
JournalActa Materialia
Volume205
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 2021

Keywords

  • Aliovalent Dopants
  • Ceria
  • Grain-Boundaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys

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