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Colossal Ionic Conductivity at Interfaces of Epitaxial ZrO2:Y2O3/SrTiO3 Heterostructures

Science  01 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5889, pp. 676-680
DOI: 10.1126/science.1156393

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Abstract

The search for electrolyte materials with high oxygen conductivities is a key step toward reducing the operation temperature of fuel cells, which is currently above 700°C. We report a high lateral ionic conductivity, showing up to eight orders of magnitude enhancement near room temperature, in yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ)/strontium titanate epitaxial heterostructures. The enhancement of the conductivity is observed, along with a YSZ layer thickness–independent conductance, showing that it is an interface process. We propose that the atomic reconstruction at the interface between highly dissimilar structures (such as fluorite and perovskite) provides both a large number of carriers and a high-mobility plane, yielding colossal values of the ionic conductivity.

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