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Structure and Dynamics in Mg2+-Stabilized γ‑Na3PO4


In parallel with advances in the synthesis of solid-state ionic conductors, there is a need to understand the underlying mechanisms behind their improved ionic conductivities. This can be achieved by obtaining an atomic level picture of the interplay between the structure of materials and the resultant ionic diffusion processes. To this end, the structure and dynamics of Mg2+-stabilized rotor phase material γ-Na3PO4, characterized by neutron scattering, are detailed in this work. The Mg2+-stabilized rotor phase is found to be thermally stable from 4 to 650 K. However, signatures of orientational disorder of the phosphate anions are also evident in the average structure. Long-range Na+ self-diffusion was probed by quasi-elastic neutron scattering and subsequently modeled via a jump diffusion matrix with consideration of the phosphate anion rotations. The resultant diffusion model points directly to coupled anion-cation dynamics. Our approach highlights the importance of considering the whole system when developing an atomic level picture of structure and dynamics, which is critical in the rational design and optimization of energy materials.

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