Optimization of electrical, optical, mechanical, and other properties of many advanced, functional materials today relies on precise control of point defects. This article illustrates the progress that has been made in elucidating the often complex equilibria exhibited by many materials by examining two recently well-characterized model systems, TlBr for radiation detection and PrCeO, of potential interest in solid-oxide fuel cells. The interplay between material composition, electrical conductivity, and mechanical properties (electrochemomechanics) is discussed, and implications in these relations, for example, enhancing electrical properties through large mechanical strains, are described. The impact of space charge and strain fields at interfaces, particularly important in nanostructure materials, is also emphasized. Key experimental techniques useful in characterizing bulk and surface defects are summarized and reviewed.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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