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Title: Discovering the Role of Grain Boundary Complexions in Materials

Grain boundaries are inherently an area of disorder in polycrystalline materials which define the transport and various other material properties. The relationship between the interfacial chemistry, structure and the material properties is not well understood. Among the various taxonomies for grain boundaries, Grain Boundary Complexion is a relatively new conceptual scheme that relates the structure and kinetic properties of grain boundaries. In this classification scheme, grain boundaries are considered to be distinct three dimensional (the thickness being considerably smaller as compared to the other two dimensions but nonetheless discernible) equilibrium thermodynamic phases abutted between two crystalline phases. The stability and structure of these interfacial phases are dictated by various thermodynamic variables such as temperature, stress (pressure), interfacial chemistry (chemical potential) and most importantly by the energies of the adjoining crystal surfaces. These phases are only stable within the constraint of the adjoining grains. Although these interfacial phases are not stable in bulk form, they can transform from one complexion to another as a function of various thermodynamic variables analogous to the behavior of bulk phases. Examples of different complexions have been reported in various publications. However, a systematic investigation exploring the existence of grain boundary complexions in material systems othermore » than alumina remains to be done. Although the role of interfacial chemistry on grain boundary complexions in alumina has been addressed, a clear understanding of the underlying thermodynamics governing complexion formation is lacking. Finally, the effects of grain boundary complexions in bulk material properties are widely unknown. Factors above urge a thorough exploration of grain boundary complexions in a range of different materials systems The purpose of the current program is to verify the existence of grain boundary complexion in a range of materials systems, and to characterize their structures, range of stability and selected physical properties. First, an Au-based bilayer interfacial phase was discovered at a bicrystal boundary in the Si-Au system. This bilayer transitioned abruptly to an intrinsic (“clean”) grain boundary phase, suggesting first-order phase behavior. This study represents the discovery of grain boundary complexions in a completely new system, i.e., a semiconductor-metal system, giving further support to the expectation that grain boundary complexions are a general phenomenon not limited to any particular class of materials. The TiO2-CuO system exhibited four grain boundary interfacial phases: a monolayer, disordered bilayer, disordered trilayer, and non-wetting nanoscale amorphous drop (which likely resulted from dewetting of a nanoscale IGF). SiO2 contamination was discovered in the TiO2-CuO samples, and we hypothesize that this impurity may have caused an “order-disorder” transition to occur. In other words, we expect that pure TiO2-CuO may have a higher tendency to exhibit ordered bilayer and trilayer complexions, which may also exhibit a well-defined order-disorder transition temperature. In this effort we have also identified unique complexion transitions in yttria and strontium titanate.« less
  1. Lehigh Univ., Bethlehem, PA (United States)
Publication Date:
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States