"The mechanism of ultrafast structural switching in superionic copper (I) sulphide nanocrystals"

T. A. Miller: J. S. Wittenberg, H. Wen, S. Connor, Y. Cui & A. M. Lindenberg; Nature Communications, 01/22/13.

Additional Authors: J. S. Wittenberg, H. Wen, S. Connor, Y. Cui & A. M. Lindenberg

Abstract:

Superionic materials are multi-component solids with simultaneous characteristics of both a solid and a liquid. Above a critical temperature associated with a structural phase transition, they exhibit liquid-like ionic conductivities and dynamic disorder within a rigid crystalline structure. Broad applications as electrochemical storage materials and resistive switching devices follow from this abrupt change in ionic mobility, but the microscopic pathways and speed limits associated with this switching process are largely unknown. Here we use ultrafast X-ray spectroscopy and scattering techniques to obtain an atomic-level, real-time view of the transition state in copper sulphide nanocrystals. We observe the transformation to occur on a twenty picosecond timescale and show that this is determined by the ionic hopping time.