IAM - Ceramic Materials and Technologies

Three-dimensional organization of rare-earth atoms at grain boundaries in silicon nitride

  • Author:

    Winkelman, G. B.; Dwyer, C.; Hudson, T. S.; Nguyen-Manh, D.; Doblinger, M.; Satet, R. L.; Hoffmann, M. J.; Cockayne, D. J.H. 

  • Source:

    APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS 87 (2005), 6 

  • Three-dimensional organization of rare-earth atoms at grain boundaries in silicon nitride.

Abstract

Used in the preparation of Si3N4 components, rare-earth elements promote the growth of needlelike grains essential to elevated toughness; evidently, La is significantly more effective than Lu. To explore this difference, we determine the three-dimensional organization of rare-earth atoms in the amorphous phase near prismatic interfaces in La- and Lu-containing Si3N4 using aberration-corrected high-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy and image processing. Evidence is presented for substantial atomic structure in notionally amorphous volumes. While the atomic arrangement in the amorphous phase conforms to the periodicity of the terminating crystal plane in both cases, the attachment sites are very different.