What is it about?

We investigate the structure and thermal properties of a glass in the Ag-Ge-Se system with a composition around the percolation threshold for the ionic conductivity. With increasing silver content, a sharp increase in the ionic conductivity is believed to originate from a percolation of a silver-rich phase to form extended conduction pathways.

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Why is it important?

Our work used the method of neutron diffraction with silver isotope substitution and therefore provided site-specific information on the coordination environment of silver, the mobile species within the glass network. The results enabled us to quantify the effect of silver on the Ge-Se network structure in terms of changes to the mean coordination number of the network-forming species. Thin films of amorphous Ag–Ge–Se can be used for making non-volatile programmable metallisation cell devices, where the application of an electric field induces the growth of conductive silver-rich ‘nanowires.’

Perspectives

It was interesting to work on an amorphous material for which phase-separation is key to understanding the percolation threshold for the ionic conductivity.

Professor Philip S Salmon
University of Bath

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This page is a summary of: Structure of Glassy Ag–Ge–Se by Neutron Diffraction with Isotope Substitution, Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie, January 2016, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/zpch-2015-0727.
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