A Computational Study of Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia: II. Cation Diffusion
Author(s)Dong, Yanhao; Qi, Liang; Li, Ju; Chen, I-Wei
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© 2017 Acta Materialia Inc. Cubic yttria-stabilized zirconia is widely used in industrial electrochemical devices. While its fast oxygen ion diffusion is well understood, why cation diffusion is much slower—its activation energy (∼5 eV) is 10 times that of anion diffusion—remains a mystery. Indeed, all previous computational studies predicted more than 5 eV is needed for forming a cation defect, and another 5 eV for moving one. In contrast, our ab initio calculations have correctly predicted the experimentally observed cation diffusivity. We found Schottky pairs are the dominant defects that provide cation vacancies, and their local environments and migrating path are dictated by packing preferences. As a cation exchanges position with a neighboring vacancy, it passes by an empty interstitial site and severely displaces two oxygen neighbors with shortened Zr-O distances. This causes a short-range repulsion against the migrating cation and a long-range disturbance of the surrounding, which explains why cation diffusion is relatively difficult. In comparison, cubic zirconia's migrating oxygen only minimally disturbs neighboring Zr, which explains why it is a fast oxygen conductor.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Dong, Yanhao, Qi, Liang, Li, Ju and Chen, I-Wei. 2017. "A Computational Study of Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia: II. Cation Diffusion." Acta Materialia, 126.
Author's final manuscript