Lanthanide (Ln) oxide clusters have complex electronic structures arising from the partially occupied Ln 4f subshell. New anion photoelectron (PE) spectra of SmxCe3-xOy - (x = 0-3; y = 2-4) along with supporting results of density functional theory (DFT) calculations suggest interesting x and y-dependent Sm 4f subshell occupancy with implications for Sm-doped ionic conductivity of ceria, as well as the overall electronic structure of the heterometallic oxides. Specifically, the Sm centers in the heterometallic species have higher 4f subshell occupancy than the homonuclear Sm3Oy -/Sm3Oy clusters. The higher 4f subshell occupancy both weakens Sm - O bonds and destabilizes the 4f subshell relative to the predominantly O 2p bonding orbitals in the clusters. Parallels between the electronic structures of these small cluster systems with bulk oxides are explored. In addition, unusual changes in the excited state transition intensities, similar to those observed previously in the PE spectra of Sm2O- and Sm2O2 - [J. O. Kafader et al., J. Chem. Phys. 146, 194310 (2017)], are also observed in the relative intensities of electronic transitions to excited neutral state bands in the PE spectra of SmxCe3-xOy - (x = 1-3; y = 2, 4). The new spectra suggest that the effect is enhanced with lower oxidation states and with an increasing number of Sm atoms, implying that the prevalence of electrons in the diffuse Sm 6s-based molecular orbitals and a more populated 4f subshell both contribute to this phenomenon. Finally, this work identifies challenges associated with affordable DFT calculations in treating the complex electronic structures exhibited by these systems, including the need for a more explicit treatment of strong coupling between the neutral and PE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry