U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Acta Materialia 60 (2012) 5408–5416; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actamat.2012.07.010


With a wide variety of applications in numerous industries, ranging from biomedical to nuclear, ceramics such as ceria are key engineering materials. It is possible to significantly alter the materials functionality and therefore its applications by reducing the grain size to the nanometer size regime, at which point the unique varieties of grain boundaries and associated interfaces begin to dominate the material properties. Nanocrystalline films of cubic ceria deposited onto Si substrates have been irradiated with 3 MeV Au+ ions at temperatures of 300 and 400 K to evaluate their response to irradiation. It was observed that the films remained phase stable. Following a slight stress relief stage at low damage levels, the overall lattice is extremely stable up to high irradiation dose of ~34 displacements per atom. The grains were also observed to undergo a temperature-dependent grain growth process upon ion irradiation. This is attributed to a defect-driven mechanism in which the diffusion of defects from the collision cascade is critical. Formation of dislocations that terminate and stabilize at symmetric grain boundaries may be the limiting factor in the grain growth and overall energy reduction of the system. Utilizing ion modification, possible improvement of the adhesion of thin films and reduction of the probability of detrimental effects of stress-induced problems are discussed.