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Ionic and electronic conductivity of nitrogen-doped YSZ single crystals

Solid State Ionics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ssi.2009.09.003
  • Nitrogen Electrochemistry
  • Ionic Conductivity
  • Electronic Conductivity
  • Nitrogen Doping
  • Ysz
  • Hebb–Wagner Measurements


Abstract The ionic and electronic charge transport was studied for single crystals of 9.5 mol% yttria-stabilized zirconia with additional nitrogen doping (YSZ:N) of up to 7.5 at.% (referred to the anion sublattice and formula unit Zr 0.83Y 0.17O 1.91) as a function of temperature and nitrogen content. The total conductivity being almost equivalent to the oxygen ion conductivity has been measured by AC impedance spectroscopy under vacuum conditions in order to prevent re-oxidation and loss of nitrogen. The electronic conductivity has been determined by Hebb–Wagner polarization using ion-blocking Pt microelectrodes in N 2 atmosphere. The ionic conductivity of YSZ:N decreases in the presence of nitrogen at intermediate temperatures up to 1000 °C. The mean activation energy of ionic conduction strongly increases with increasing nitrogen content, from 1.0 eV for nitrogen-free YSZ up to 1.9 eV for YSZ containing 7.3 at.% N. Compared to nitrogen-free YSZ, the electronic conductivity first decreases at nitrogen contents of 2.17 and 5.80 at.%, but then increases again for a sample with 7.53 at.%. At temperatures of 850 °C and above, the presence of the N 3− dopant fixes the electrode potential and thus the oxygen partial pressure at the Pt electrode to very low values. This corresponds to a pinning of the Fermi level at a relatively high energy in the upper half of the band gap. At 7.53 at.% N and 950 °C, the oxygen partial pressure in YSZ:N corresponds to p O 2 = 3 × 10 − 18 bar. At temperatures above 850 °C, even in the presence of a very small oxygen concentration in the surrounding gas phase, the nitrogen ion dopant becomes highly mobile and thus diffuses to the surface where it is oxidized to gaseous N 2. The results are discussed in terms of the ionic and electronic defect structures and the defect mobilities in YSZ:N.

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