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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering