American Chemical Society
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Three-Dimensional Insights into Interfacial Segregation at the Atomic Scale in a Nanocrystalline Glass-Ceramic

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-08-09, 16:07 authored by Le Fu, Jeromy Williams, Chiara Micheletti, Bryan E. J. Lee, Guofu Xu, Jiwu Huang, Håkan Engqvist, Wei Xia, Kathryn Grandfield
The distribution of dopant atoms plays a key role in the effectiveness of doping, thereby requiring delicate characterizations. In this study, we found that energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) techniques in scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) were not adequate to reveal the distribution of yttrium and the chemical composition of the ZrO2/SiO2 heterophase interface in an yttrium-doped ZrO2–SiO2 nanocrystalline glass-ceramic. Atom probe tomography (APT) is rarely utilized to characterize ceramics due to some inherent difficulties. However, we successfully revealed the three-dimensional distribution of ZrO2 nanocrystallites and SiO2 matrix at the atomic scale with APT under optimized and well-controlled conditions. We also found that the ZrO2 nanocrystallites had a special core–shell structure, with a thin Zr/Si interfacial layer as a shell and a ZrO2 solid solution as a core. Yttrium dopants showed interfacial segregation at both ZrO2 grain boundaries and the ZrO2/SiO2 heterophase interfaces.