Electrochemical Polarization Dependence of the Elastic and Electrostatic Driving Forces to Aliovalent Dopant Segregation on LaMnO3
Segregation of aliovalent dopant cations is a common degradation pathway on perovskite oxide surfaces in energy conversion and catalysis applications. Here we focus on resolving quantitatively how dopant segregation is affected by oxygen chemical potential, which varies over a wide range in electrochemical and thermochemical energy conversion reactions. We employ electrochemical polarization to tune the oxygen chemical potential over many orders of magnitude. Altering the effective oxygen chemical potential causes the oxygen nonstoichiometry to change in the electrode. This then influences the mechanisms underlying the segregation of aliovalent dopants. These mechanisms are (i) the formation of oxygen vacancies that couples to the electrostatic energy of the dopant in the perovskite lattice and (ii) the elastic energy of the dopant due to cation size mismatch, which also promotes the reaction of the dopant with O2 from the gas phase. The present study resolves these two contributions over a wide range of effective oxygen pressures. Ca-, Sr-, and Ba-doped LaMnO3 are selected as model systems, where the dopants have the same charge but different ionic sizes. We found that there is a transition between the electrostatically and elastically dominated segregation regimes, and the transition shifted to a lower oxygen pressure with increasing cation size. This behavior is consistent with the results of our ab initio thermodynamics calculations. The present study provides quantitative insights into how the elastic energy and the electrostatic energy determine the extent of segregation for a given overpotential and atmosphere relevant to the operating conditions of perovskite oxides in energy conversion applications.