Energy crossovers in nanocrystalline zirconia

Michael W. Pitcher, Sergey V. Ushakov, Alexandra Navrotsky, Brian F. Woodfield, Guangshe Li, Juliana Boerio-Goates, Brian M. Tissue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


The synthesis of nanocrystalline powders of zirconia often produces the tetragonal phase, which for coarse-grained powders is stable only at high temperatures and transforms into the monoclinic form on cooling. This stability reversal has been suggested to be due to differences in the surface energies of the monoelinic and tetragonal polymorphs. In the present study, we have used high-temperature oxide melt solution calorimetry to test this hypothesis directly. We measured the excess enthalpies of nanocrystalline tetragonal, monoclinic, and amorphous zirconia. Monoelinic ZrO 2 was found to have the largest surface enthalpy and amorphous zirconia the smallest. Stability crossovers with increasing surface area between monoclinic, tetragonal, and amorphous zirconia were confirmed. The surface enthalpy of amorphous zirconia was estimated to be 0.5 J/m 2. The linear fit of excess enthalpies for nanocrystalline zirconia, as a function of area from nitrogen adsorption (BET) gave apparent surface enthalpies of 6.4 and 2.1 J/m 2, for the monoclinic and tetragonal polymorphs, respectively. Due to aggregation, the surface areas calculated from crystallite size are larger than those measured by BET. The fit of enthalpy versus calculated total interface/surface area gave surface enthalpies of 4.2 J/m 2 for the monoclinic form and 0.9 J/m 2 for the tetragonal polymorph. From solution calorimetry, the enthalpy of the monoclinic to tetragonal phase transition for ZrO 2 was estimated to be 10±1 kJ/mol and amorphization enthalpy to be 34±2 kJ/mol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Ceramic Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


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