Effects of rare-earth co-doping on the local structure of rare-earth phosphate glasses using high and low energy X-ray diffraction

Cramer, Alisha J.; Cole, Jacqueline M.; Fitzgerald, Vicky; Honkimaki, Veijo; Roberts, Mark A.; Brennan, Tessa; Martin, Richard A.; Saunders, George A. and Newport, Robert J. (2013). Effects of rare-earth co-doping on the local structure of rare-earth phosphate glasses using high and low energy X-ray diffraction. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 15 (22), pp. 8529-8543.

Abstract

Rare-earth co-doping in inorganic materials has a long-held tradition of facilitating highly desirable optoelectronic properties for their application to the laser industry. This study concentrates specifically on rare-earth phosphate glasses, (R2O3)x(R'2O3)y(P2O5)1-(x+y), where (R, R') denotes (Ce, Er) or (La, Nd) co-doping and the total rare-earth composition corresponds to a range between metaphosphate, RP3O9, and ultraphosphate, RP5O14. Thereupon, the effects of rare-earth co-doping on the local structure are assessed at the atomic level. Pair-distribution function analysis of high-energy X-ray diffraction data (Qmax = 28 Å-1) is employed to make this assessment. Results reveal a stark structural invariance to rare-earth co-doping which bears testament to the open-framework and rigid nature of these glasses. A range of desirable attributes of these glasses unfold from this finding; in particular, a structural simplicity that will enable facile molecular engineering of rare-earth phosphate glasses with 'dial-up' lasing properties. When considered together with other factors, this finding also demonstrates additional prospects for these co-doped rare-earth phosphate glasses in nuclear waste storage applications. This study also reveals, for the first time, the ability to distinguish between P-O and PO bonding in these rare-earth phosphate glasses from X-ray diffraction data in a fully quantitative manner. Complementary analysis of high-energy X-ray diffraction data on single rare-earth phosphate glasses of similar rare-earth composition to the co-doped materials is also presented in this context. In a technical sense, all high-energy X-ray diffraction data on these glasses are compared with analogous low-energy diffraction data; their salient differences reveal distinct advantages of high-energy X-ray diffraction data for the study of amorphous materials.

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