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Phys Rev Lett. 2006 Sep 29;97(13):136601. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

Direct evidence for conduction pathways in a solid electrolyte.

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Physik Institut der Universität Zürich, Winterhurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


The emission of silver ions from the apex of an amorphous electrolyte tip has been investigated by field ion microscopy. The ion emission patterns show discrete nanometer-sized spots. We present evidence that they represent the termination of bulk ion conduction pathways at the solid-vacuum interface. The analysis of the signals from individual emission sites suggests the existence of a network of such pathways in the solid. Auto- and cross-correlation measurements of the currents from individual sites provide quantitative information on the microscopic dynamics of charge transport in solid electrolytes as well as on the lateral extent of the pathway network.

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