Comparison of Space-Charge Formation at Grain Boundaries in Proton-Conducting BaZrO3 and BaCeO3
Journal article, 2017

Acceptor-doped BaZrO3 (BZO) and BaCeO3 (BCO) both exhibit considerable bulk proton conductivity, which makes them suitable as electrolytes in electrochemical devices. However, these materials display high grain-boundary (GB) resistance that severely limits the overall proton transport in polycrystalline samples. This effect has been attributed to the presence of space charges at the GBs, which form because of segregation of protons and charged oxygen vacancies. This blocking behavior is less prominent in BCO, but in contrast to BZO, BCO suffers from poor chemical stability. The aim with the present work is to elucidate why GBs in BZO are more resistive than GBs in BCO. We use density-functional theory (DFT) calculations to study proton and oxygen vacancy segregation to several GBs and find that the oxygen vacancy segregation energy is quite similar in both materials while the tendency for proton segregation is larger in BZO compared with that in BCO. This is not related to the GBs, which display similar proton formation energies in both materials, but because of different formation energies for protons in the bulk regions. This can be understood from a stronger hydrogen bond formation in bulk BCO compared with that in bulk BZO. Furthermore, segregation energies are evaluated in a space-charge model,. and the resulting space-charge potentials provide a consistent explanation of the experimentally observed difference in GB conductivity.

energy calculations

barium zirconate

ceramic fuel-cells



augmented-wave method

density-functional theory


defect segregation



Anders Lindman

Chalmers, Physics, Materials and Surface Theory

Edit Ahlberg Helgee

Chalmers, Physics, Materials and Surface Theory

Göran Wahnström

Chalmers, Physics, Materials and Surface Theory

Chemistry of Materials

0897-4756 (ISSN) 1520-5002 (eISSN)

Vol. 29 18 7931-7941

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences



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