Radiation-induced segregation in a ceramic

Xing Wang, Hongliang Zhang, Tomonori Baba, Hao Jiang, Cheng Liu, Yingxin Guan, Omar Elleuch, Thomas Kuech, Dane Morgan, Juan Carlos Idrobo, Paul M. Voyles, Izabela Szlufarska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Radiation-induced segregation is well known in metals, but has been rarely studied in ceramics. We discover that radiation can induce notable segregation of one of the constituent elements to grain boundaries in a ceramic, despite the fact that the ceramic forms a line compound and therefore has a strong thermodynamic driving force to resist off-stoichiometry. Specifically, irradiation of silicon carbide at 300 °C leads to carbon enrichment near grain boundaries, whereas the enrichment diminishes for irradiation at 600 °C. The temperature dependence of this radiation-induced segregation is different from that shown in metallic systems. Using an ab initio informed rate theory model, we demonstrate that this difference is introduced by the unique defect energy landscapes present in the covalent system. Additionally, we discover that grain boundaries in unirradiated silicon carbide grown by chemical vapour deposition are intrinsically carbon-depleted. The inherent grain boundary chemistry and its evolution under radiation are both critical for understanding the many properties of ceramics associated with grain boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)992-998
Number of pages7
JournalNature Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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