Transitions of electrons and holes drive diffusion in crystals, glasses and melts
Diffusion of atoms or molecules (generally: particles) is driven by differences and gradients of the chemical potential of the particles in their accessible space. If the difference of the chemical potential is due to differences of concentrations alone, one arrives at the diffusion equations of Fick. The diffusion coefficients are described in known models by vibrations of atoms in condensed matter which cause the exchange of preferentially neutral particles with neighbouring particles, impurities, interstitial places and vacancies near or on surfaces, grain boundaries, dislocation lines and in the homogeneous bulk. The rates of electronic transitions, however, increase also in melts and solids of chemically bonded particles with increasing temperature. Such transitions cause large fluctuating deviations of the local energy, the charge distribution and the local chemical and electrical potentials. The fluctuating deviations interact with the core ions and drive particles to interchange. This mechanism that supplements the known mechanisms of diffusion has not yet found adequate attention in the literature until now. Foundations, experimental results, evidence and consequences for diffusion are discussed.
Published in: Materialwissenschaft und Werkstofftechnik, 10.1002/mawe.201800158, Wiley