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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Potential Control of Oxygen Non-Stoichiometry in Cerium Oxide and Phase Transition Away from Equilibrium.

  • Author(s): Dejoie, Catherine
  • Yu, Yi
  • Bernardi, Fabiano
  • Tamura, Nobumichi
  • Kunz, Martin
  • Marcus, Matthew A
  • Huang, Yi-Lin
  • Zhang, Chunjuan
  • Eichhorn, Bryan W
  • Liu, Zhi
  • et al.

Cerium oxide (ceria, CeO2) is a technologically important material for energy conversion applications. Its activities strongly depend on redox states and oxygen vacancy concentration. Understanding the functionality of chemical active species and behavior of oxygen vacancy during operation, especially in high-temperature solid-state electrochemical cells, is the key to advance future material design. Herein, the structure evolution of ceria is spatially resolved using bulk-sensitive operando X-ray diffraction and spectroscopy techniques. During water electrolysis, ceria undergoes reduction, and its oxygen non-stoichiometry shows a dependence on the electrochemical current. Cerium local bonding environments vary concurrently to accommodate oxygen vacancy formation, resulting in changes in Ce-O coordination number and Ce3+/Ce4+ redox couple. When reduced enough, a crystallographic phase transition occurs from α to an α' phase with more oxygen vacancies. Nevertheless, the transition behavior is intriguingly different from the one predicted in the standard phase diagram of ceria. This paper demonstrates a feasible means to control oxygen non-stoichiometry in ceria via electrochemical potential. It also sheds light on the mechanism of phase transitions induced by electrochemical potential. For electrochemical systems, effects from a large-scale electrical environment should be taken into consideration, besides effective oxygen partial pressure and temperature.

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