Oxyhydride Nature of Rare-Earth-Based Photochromic Thin Films

Steffen Cornelius, Giorgio Colombi, Fahimeh Nafezarefi, Herman Schreuders, René Heller, Frans Munnik, Bernard Dam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
211 Downloads (Pure)


Thin films of rare-earth (RE)-oxygen-hydrogen compounds prepared by reactive magnetron sputtering show a unique color-neutral photochromic effect at ambient conditions. While their optical properties have been studied extensively, the understanding of the relationship between photochromism, chemical composition, and structure is limited. Here we establish a ternary RE-O-H composition-phase diagram based on chemical composition analysis by a combination of Rutherford backscattering and elastic recoil detection. The photochromic films are identified as oxyhydrides with a wide composition range described by the formula REO x H 3-2x where 0.5 ≤ x ≤ 1.5. We propose an anion-disordered structure model based on the face-centered cubic unit cell where the O 2- and H - anions occupy tetrahedral and octahedral interstices. The optical band gap varies continuously with the anion ratio, demonstrating the potential of band gap tuning for reversible optical switching applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1348
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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