119Sn MAS NMR and first-principles calculations for the investigation of disorder in stannate pyrochlores

Martin R. Mitchell, Simon W. Reader, Karen E. Johnston, Chris J. Pickard, Karl R. Whittle, Sharon E. Ashbrook

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41 Citations (Scopus)


The local structure and cation disorder in Y2Ti2-xSnxO7 pyrochlores, materials proposed for the encapsulation of lanthanide-and actinide-bearing radioactive waste, is studied using Sn-119 (I = 1/2) NMR spectroscopy. NMR provides an excellent probe of disorder, as it is sensitive to the atomic scale environment without the need for any long-range periodicity. However, the complex and overlapping spectral resonances that often result can be difficult to interpret. Here, we demonstrate how Sn-119 DFT calculations can be used to aid the spectral interpretation and assignment, confirming that Sn occupies only the six-coordinate pyrochlore B site, and that the Sn chemical shift is sensitive to the number of Sn/Ti on the neighbouring B sites. Although distinct resonances are resolved experimentally when the Ti content is low, there is significant spectral overlap for Ti-rich compositions. We establish that this is a result of two competing contributions to the Sn chemical shift; an upfield shift resulting from the incorporation of the more polarizing Ti4+ cation onto the neighbouring B sites, and a concomitant downfield shift arising from the decrease in unit cell size. Despite the considerably easier spectral acquisition, the lower resolution in the 119 Sn spectra hinders the extraction of the detailed structural information previously obtained using Y-89 NMR. However, the spectra we obtain are consistent with a random distribution of Sn/Ti on the pyrochlore B sites. Finally, we consider whether an equilibrium structure has been achieved by investigating materials that have been annealed for different durations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-497
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number2
Early online date29 Oct 2010
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2011


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