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Lattice Disorder and Oxygen Migration Pathways in Pyrochlore and Defect-Fluorite Oxides...

by Yuanpeng Zhang, Thomas E Proffen
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Chemistry of Materials
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Atomic-scale disorder plays an important role in the chemical and physical properties of oxide materials. The structural flexibility of pyrochlore-type oxides allows for crystal-chemical engineering of these properties. Compositional modification can push pyrochlore oxides toward a disordered defect-fluorite structure with anion Frenkel pair defects that facilitate oxygen migration. The local structure of the long-range average cubic defect-fluorite was recently claimed to consist of randomly arranged orthorhombic weberite-type domains. In this work, we show, using low-temperature neutron total-scattering experiments, that this is not the case for Zr-rich defect-fluorites. By analyzing data from the pyrochlore/defect-fluorite Y2Sn2–xZrxO7 series using a combination of neutron pair distribution function and big-box modelling, we have differentiated and quantified the relationship between anion sub-lattice disorder and Frenkel defects. These details directly influence the energy landscape for oxygen migration and are crucial for simulations and design of new materials with improved properties.