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Physicochemical Properties of Proton-conducting SmNiO3 Epitaxial Films


Proton conducting SmNiO3 (SNO) thin films were grown on (001) LaAlO3 substrates for systematically investigating the proton transport properties. X-ray Diffraction and Atomic Force Microscopy studies reveal that the as-grown SNO thin films have good single crystallinity and smooth surface morphology. The electrical conductivity measurements in air indicate a peak at 473 K in the temperature dependence of the resistance of the SNO films, probably due to oxygen loss on heating. A Metal-Insulator-Transition occurs at 373 K for the films after annealing at 873 K in air. In a hydrogen atmosphere (3% H2/97% N2), an anomalous peak in the resistance is found at 685 K on the first heating cycle. Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy studies as a function of temperature indicate that the SNO films have a high ionic conductivity (0.030 S/cm at 773 K) in a hydrogen atmosphere. The activation energy for proton conductivity was determined to be 0.23 eV at 473–773 K and 0.37 eV at 773–973 K respectively. These findings demonstrate that SNO thin films have good proton conductivity and are good candidate electrolytes for low temperature proton-conducting Solid Oxide Fuel Cells.

Funding source: National Science Foundation of China Contract No. 51672149, 51332001 and 51402164; the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2016YFA0300103); R. A. Welch Foundation, Grant #E0024).
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain

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