Grain Boundary Processes In High Temperature Densification And Deformation Of Nanocrystalline Zirconia
Grain boundary processes play a major role in controlling different rate processes in yttria stabilized tetragonal zirconia. The present study concentrated on rate processes in tetragonal zirconia, which were significantly influenced by the grain boundary processes. In this present study, nanocrystalline zirconia with grain size as low as 66 nm and density as high as 98.5% was processed using a two steps sintering-sinterforging process in the temperature range of 1473K to 1373K. Significant suppression of grain growth was noted in the second step of the two step process. It was observed that two step sintering-sinterforging process can reduce the processing time by an order of magnitude compared to the two step sintering process. A high grain size dependency of 3.3 indicated grain boundary controlled process dominating this technique. The dense nanocrystalline zirconia was used for microstructural and deformation characterization. An influence of electric field on grain growth behaviour was studied by annealing the specimens at 1573K for 10 hours under an applied field of 4 V/cm to 80 V/cm. It was noticed that grain growth was significantly retarded under a very weak field and the magnitude of retardation dependent on the applied voltage, an extensive grain growth was observed on the other occasion when the applied voltage crossed the threshold value of 3.5V. It was proposed that electrical boundary resistance provides minima in the grain boundary energy during annealing and that retards the grain growth. This technique presented a huge potential application in ceramic processing involving rate process. Again the grain boundary process was reported to control this phenomenon. Low temperature creep properties of nanocrystalline zirconia were investigated in great detail in the present study. Grain boundary sliding was noted as the mode of deformation at 1423 K. Study on the specimens with wide range of grain sizes (65 nm to ~0.4 µm) suggested that the deformation mechanism of the nanograin is similar to that of the submicron grain zirconia. A study on the segregation of yttrium ions to the grain boundaries showed that the segregation behaviour of nanograin and submicron grain 3YTZ was similar, which again indicated towards the possibility of nanocrystalline tetragonal zirconia to be superplastic as the scaling law was applicable from submicron to nanocrystalline 3YTZ. Grain boundary sliding is the mode of deformation of 3YTZ at high temperatures. This study aimed at understanding the influence of grain boundary sliding on rate processes at the boundary namely grain boundary diffusion. Grain boundary diffusivity of the deformed specimens was measured using secondary ion mass spectroscopy. The study revealed that the sliding process is much slower compared to the atomic jumps causing grain boundary diffusion, hence no significant influence of the grain boundary sliding on grain boundary diffusion was observed. This present study demonstrated new techniques which have a huge potential application in processing ceramics at low temperatures. This study also developed an understanding of the grain boundary processes which involved in low temperature rate processes of nanocrystalline zirconia.
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