Local Coordination Environments and Vibrational Dynamics of Protons in Hexagonal and Cubic Sc-Doped BaTiO3 Proton-Conducting Oxides
Journal article, 2020
The proton local coordination environments and vibrational dynamics associated with the two order of magnitude change in proton conductivity in hydrated forms of hexagonal and cubic structured BaTi1-xScxO3Hx (0.16 < x < 0.7) were investigated using optical spectroscopy, neutron spectroscopy, and first-principles calculations. Whereas the cubic structure compositions display a single proton site, we show that protons occupy three distinct sites in compositions exhibiting the hexagonal structure. The principal site is characterized by interoctahedral hydrogen bonds, while two additional low occupancy sites are similar to those in the cubic structure, with classic intraoctahedral geometry. Furthermore, the proton hydrogen bond strength increases with decreasing scandium doping level. We infer from this that the stronger, more energetic hydrogen bonds in the hexagonal structure, resulting from proton sites with lower symmetry (lower multiplicity), are predominantly responsible for the significant reduction in macroscopic conductivity between cubic and hexagonal BaTi1-xScxO3Hx materials, rather than simply the absolute number of protons. Our findings are highly relevant to the field, clarifying the advantages of high-symmetry structures with high-multiplicity proton sites to favorable properties in ceramic proton-conducting oxides.