Size-dependence of zirconia-based ceramics via deformation twinning

H. Zhang, H. Gu, J. Jetter, E. Quandt, R. D. James, J. R. Greer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contrary to the dislocation-driven ‘smaller-is-stronger’ size-effect in nanocrystals, the size-dependence of strength in deformation twinning, another carrier of plasticity, still lacks universal understanding. Deformation twinning enables pseudoplastic strain of >5% in a shape memory ceramic (ZrHfO4)x (YTaO4)1−x. We use diffraction methods, microstructure analysis, and in-situ nanomechanical experiments to uncover contributing factors to the competition between twinning and slip in these submicron-sized ionic crystals, revealing power-law scaling of strength with size for both mechanisms. The significant twinning size-dependence was found to follow a superimposed power-law with exponent of -1, identical to that in metals. These findings unveil the universality of the superimposed power-law size-effect for twinning in single-crystals and provide new insights on deformability of ceramics and microstructure-driven nano-plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101124
JournalExtreme Mechanics Letters
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
HZ and JRG gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the U.S. Department of Basic Energy Sciences under Grant DE-SC0006599 . HG and RDJ acknowledge the support of a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, USA . EQ and JJ acknowledge support by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via a Reinhart Koselleck project (Project number 313454214).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Crystallography
  • Deformation twinning
  • In-situ nanomechanics
  • Plasticity
  • Shape memory ceramics

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