Grain boundary structure and solute segregation in titanium-doped sapphire bicrystals
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Grain boundary structure and solute segregation in titanium-doped sapphire bicrystals


Solute segregation to ceramic grain boundaries governs material processing and microstructure evolution, and can strongly influence material properties critical to engineering performance. Understanding the evolution and implications of grain boundary chemistry is a vital component in the greater effort to engineer ceramics with controlled microstructures. This study examines solute segregation to engineered grain boundaries in titanium-doped sapphire (Al2O3) bicrystals, and explores relationships between grain boundary structure and chemistry at the nanometer scale using spectroscopic and imaging techniques in the transmission electron microscope (TEM). Results demonstrate dramatic changes in solute segregation stemming from small fluctuations in grain boundary plane and structure. Titanium and silicon solute species exhibit strong tendencies to segregate to non-basal and basal grain boundary planes, respectively. Evidence suggests that grain boundary faceting occurs in low-angle twist boundaries to accommodate nonequilibrium solute segregation related to slow specimen cooling rates, while faceting of tilt grain boundaries often occurs to expose special planes of the coincidence site lattice (CSL). Moreover, quantitative analysis of grain boundary chemistry indicates preferential segregation of charged defects to grain boundary dislocations. These results offer direct proof that static dislocations in ionic materials can assume a net charge, and emphasize the importance of interactions between charged point, line, and planar defects in ionic materials. Efforts to understand grain boundary chemistry in terms of space charge theory, elastic misfit and nonequilibrium segregation are discussed for the Al2O3 system.

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