Low temperature oxygen diffusion mechanisms in Nd2NiO4+δ and Pr2NiO4+δvia large anharmonic displacements, explored by single crystal neutron diffraction
We investigated the structure of Nd2NiO4+δ and Pr2NiO4+δ by single crystal neutron diffraction studies. While the real structure of both compounds is incommensurate, the scattering density of the respective average structures was explored using the Maximum Entropy Method. Unusually high displacement factors were found for the equatorial and apical oxygen atoms showing respectively large displacement amplitudes towards  and  with respect to the F-symmetry cell. The shifts of the apical oxygen atoms reach up to 1 Å from their average position, corresponding to a 25° tilt of the NiO6 octahedra. At 400 °C, i.e. slightly above the orthorhombic-tetragonal phase transition, the anharmonic apical oxygen displacements towards  in the commensurate tetragonal parent structure are strongly enhanced, showing a double-well potential and pointing towards the interstitial vacancy sites, creating a quasi continuous shallow energy diffusion pathway between apical and interstitial oxygen sites. These large displacement amplitudes are considered to be – at least partially – of dynamical origin, which is consistent with a phonon assisted diffusion mechanism, already activated at very moderate temperatures.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2015 Journal of Materials Chemistry A Hot Papers