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Oxygen Hole States in Zirconia Lattices: Quantitative Aspects of Their Cathodoluminescence Emission

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Kyoto Institute of Technology and Research Institute for Nanoscience, Sakyo-ku, Matsugasaki, 606-8585 Kyoto, Japan
Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Dorsoduro 2137, 30123 Venezia, Italy
*E-mail: [email protected] (G.P.).
Cite this: J. Phys. Chem. A 2014, 118, 42, 9828–9836
Publication Date (Web):September 26, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

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    Systematic assessments of cathodoluminescence (CL) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy (RS), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) are presented for pure zirconia and for a series of Y-doped zirconia powders (henceforth, simply referred to as undoped ZrO2 and YSZ powders, respectively) synthesized according to a coprecipitation method of Zr and Y chlorides. Emphasis is placed here on spectral emissions related to oxygen-vacancy sites (i.e., oxygen hole states) equally detected from undoped and Y-doped ZrO2 samples, either as intrinsic defects or, extrinsically induced, by means of cathodoluminescence. Most counterintuitively, the undoped ZrO2 sample (i.e., the one with presumably the lowest amount of oxygen vacancies) experienced the strongest CL emission. A progressive “quenching” effect on CL emission with increasing the fraction of Y3+ dopant could also be observed because the intrinsic vacancies present in the undoped lattice are the most efficient since they can trap two electrons to gain electrical neutrality. However, as soon as Y3+ ions are introduced in the system, those intrinsic vacancies migrate to Y-sites in next-nearest-neighbor locations, namely in a less efficient lattice location. This phenomenon is tentatively referred to as “delocalization” of vacancy sites. Moreover, the fact that Y-doped zirconia series presents quite similar CL spectra compared to the undoped zirconia could be an evidence that the radiative centers of undoped and Y-doped ZrO2 are basically the same. A fitting procedure has been made aiming to give a rational description of the variation of the spectra morphology, and a parameter able to describe the monoclinic to tetragonal phase transformation has been found. This parameter and the overall set of CL data enabled us to quantitatively assess polymorphic phase fractions by CL spectroscopy in the scanning electron microscope.

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