MRS Bulletin

Scanning probes for new energy materials: Probing local structure and function

Scanning probes for new energy materials: Probing local structure and function

Electrochemical strain microscopy: Probing ionic and electrochemical phenomena in solids at the nanometer level

Stephen Jessea1, Amit Kumara2, Thomas M. Arrudaa3, Yunseok Kima4, Sergei V. Kalinina5 and Francesco Ciuccia6

a1 Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN; sjesse@ornl.gov

a2 Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN; ka7@ornl.gov

a3 Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN; arrudatm@ornl.gov

a4 Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN; kimy4@ornl.gov

a5 Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN; sergei2@ornl.gov

a6 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; mefrank@ust.hk

Abstract

Atomistic and nanometer scale mechanisms of electrochemical reactions and ionic flows in solids in the nanometer–micron range persist as terra incognito in modern science. While structural and electronic phenomena are now accessible to electron and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques, probing nanoscale electrochemistry requires the capability to probe local ionic currents. Here, we discuss principles and applications of electrochemical strain microscopy (ESM), a technique based on probing minute deformations induced by electric bias applied to an SPM tip. ESM imaging and spectroscopy are illustrated for several energy storage and conversion materials. We further argue that down-scaling of physical device structures based on oxides necessitates ionic and electrochemical effects to be taken into account. Future pathways for ESM development are discussed.

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