Structure and phase transition in BaThO3: A combined neutron and synchrotron X-ray diffraction study

21 February 2019

The structure of BaThO3, obtained by solid state synthesis, was refined for the first time by the Rietveld method using a combination of synchrotron X-ray and neutron powder diffraction data. BaThO3 has an orthorhombic structure at room temperature, in space group Pbnm with a = 6.3491(5), b = 6.3796(4) and c = 8.9907(7) Å. Heating BaThO3 to above 700 °C results in a continuous transition to a second orthorhombic structure, in space group Ibmm, demonstrated by both in situ neutron and synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction measurements. The coefficient of volumetric thermal expansion for BaThO3 is determined to be 1.04 x 10-5 oC-1 from 50 to 625 oC (Pbnm phase), and 9.43 x 10-6 oC-1 from 800 to 1000 oC (Ibmm phase). BaThO3 was found to decompose upon exposure to atmospheric moisture resulting in the formation of ThO2. The thermal expansion of ThO2, which invariably co-exists with BaThO3, is also described.