'Illusional' nano-size effect due to artifacts of in-plane conductivity measurements of ultra-thin films.
ABSTRACT The nano-size effect, which indicates a drastic increase in conductivity in solid electrolyte materials of nano-scale microstructures, has drawn substantial attention in various research fields including in the field of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). However, especially in the cases of the conductivity of ultra-thin films measured in an in-plane configuration, it is highly possible that the 'apparent' conductivity increase originates from electrical current flowing through other conduction paths than the thin film. As a systematic study to interrogate those measurement artifacts, we report various sources of electrical current leaks regarding in-plane conductivity measurements, specifically insulators in the measurement set-up. We have observed a 'great conductivity increase' up to an order of magnitude at a very thin thickness of a single layer yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) film in a set-up with an intentional artifact current flow source. Here we propose that the nano-size effect, reported to appear in ultra-thin single layer YSZ, can be a result of misinterpretation.
- SourceAvailable from: Noriko Sata[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Ion conduction is of prime importance for solid-state reactions in ionic systems, and for devices such as high-temperature batteries and fuel cells, chemical filters and sensors. Ionic conductivity in solid electrolytes can be improved by dissolving appropriate impurities into the structure or by introducing interfaces that cause the redistribution of ions in the space-charge regions. Heterojunctions in two-phase systems should be particularly efficient at improving ionic conduction, and a qualitatively different conductivity behaviour is expected when interface spacing is comparable to or smaller than the width of the space-charge regions in comparatively large crystals. Here we report the preparation, by molecular-beam epitaxy, of defined heterolayered films composed of CaF2 and BaF2 that exhibit ionic conductivity (parallel to the interfaces) increasing proportionally with interface density--for interfacial spacing greater than 50 nanometres. The results are in excellent agreement with semi-infinite space-charge calculations, assuming a redistribution of fluoride ions at the interfaces. If the spacing is reduced further, the boundary zones overlap and the predicted mesoscopic size effect is observed. At this point, the single layers lose their individuality and an artificial ionically conducting material with anomalous transport properties is generated. Our results should lead to fundamental insight into ionic contact processes and to tailored ionic conductors of potential relevance for medium-temperature applications.Nature 01/2000; 408(6815):946-9. · 38.60 Impact Factor