Influence of Cation (RE = Sc, Y, Gd) and O/H Anion Ratio on the Photochromic Properties of REO<sub>x</sub>H<sub>3-2x</sub> Thin Films

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Abstract

Rare-earth oxyhydride REOxH3-2x thin films prepared by air-oxidation of reactively sputtered REH2 dihydrides show a color-neutral, reversible photochromic effect at ambient conditions. The present work shows that the O/H anion ratio, as well as the choice of the cation, allow to largely tune the extent of the optical change and its speed. The bleaching time, in particular, can be reduced by an order of magnitude by increasing the O/H ratio, indirectly defined by the deposition pressure of the parent REH2. The influence of the cation (RE = Sc, Y, Gd) under comparable deposition conditions is discussed. Our data suggest that REs of a larger ionic radius form oxyhydrides with a larger optical contrast and faster bleaching speed, hinting to a dependency of the photochromic mechanism on the anion site-hopping.