Segregation of anion (Cl−) impurities at transparent polycrystalline α-alumina interfaces
Small amounts of anion impurities (e.g. Cl), which are incorporated during the synthesis of ceramic powders, can affect the properties and microstructure of the final sintered ceramic. The effect of anion impurities is a little studied and poorly understood phenomenon. In this work a combination of STEM-EDX analysis and atomistic modeling approach was used to understand the segregation of Cl in transparent alumina ceramics. A high resolution analytical electron microscopy study showed the presence of Cl at the grain boundaries and especially at triple points. Atomistic simulations were carried out to understand the origins and consequences of such segregation. Segregation energy calculations predict a strong segregation of Cl at the different surfaces and grain boundaries of alumina. A higher coordination number of Cl at surfaces was observed, which indicates strong ionic bonds making it difficult to remove at low temperature, which explains the presence of Cl at triple points.