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Research Article | Open Access

Electron-irradiation-facilitated production of chemically homogenized nanotwins in nanolaminated carbides

Hui Zhanga,b( )Qianqian JincTao Hud( )Xiaochun LiueZezhong ZhangfChunfeng HugYanchun Zhouh( )Yu HaniXiaohui Wangj
Electron Microscopy Center, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China
School of Emergent Soft Matter, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China
Center for the Structure of Advanced Matter, School of Electronic Engineering, Guangxi University of Science and Technology, Liuzhou 545006, China
Institute of Materials Science and Devices, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Suzhou University of Science and Technology, Suzhou 215009, China
Institute of Metals, Changsha University of Science & Technology, Changsha 410004, China
Electron Microscopy for Materials Research (EMAT), University of Antwerp, Antwerp 2020, Belgium
Key Laboratory of Advanced Technologies of Materials, Ministry of Education, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu 610031, China
School of Materials Science & Engineering, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China
Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Center, Physical Sciences and Engineering Division, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia
Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science, Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang 110016, China
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Graphical Abstract


Twin boundaries have been exploited to stabilize ultrafine grains and improve mechanical properties of nanomaterials. The production of the twin boundaries and nanotwins is however prohibitively challenging in carbide ceramics. Using a scanning transmission electron microscope as a unique platform for atomic-scale structure engineering, we demonstrate that twin platelets could be produced in carbides by engineering antisite defects. The antisite defects at metal sites in various layered ternary carbides are collectively and controllably generated, and the metal elements are homogenized by electron irradiation, which transforms a twin-like lamellae into nanotwin platelets. Accompanying chemical homogenization, α-Ti3AlC2 transforms to unconventional β-Ti3AlC2. The chemical homogeneity and the width of the twin platelets can be tuned by dose and energy of bombarding electrons. Chemically homogenized nanotwins can boost hardness by ~45%. Our results provide a new way to produce ultrathin (< 5 nm) nanotwin platelets in scientifically and technologically important carbide materials and showcase feasibility of defect engineering by an angstrom-sized electron probe.

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Journal of Advanced Ceramics
Pages 1288-1297
Cite this article:
Zhang H, Jin Q, Hu T, et al. Electron-irradiation-facilitated production of chemically homogenized nanotwins in nanolaminated carbides. Journal of Advanced Ceramics, 2023, 12(6): 1288-1297.








Web of Science






Received: 19 February 2023
Revised: 07 April 2023
Accepted: 17 April 2023
Published: 05 June 2023
© The Author(s) 2023.

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