Representative piezo-response force microscopy images (phase amplitude) of...
27.04.2023 •

Dislocation toughening in single-crystal KNbO₃


The growing research interest in dislocation-tuned functionality in ceramics is evident, with the most recent proofs-of-concept for enhanced ferroelectric properties, electrical conductivity, and superconductivity via dislocations. In this work, we focus on dislocation-tuned mechanical properties and demonstrate that, by engineering high dislocation densities (up to 1014 m−2) into KNbO3 at room temperature, the fracture toughness can be improved by a factor of 2.8. The microstructures, including dislocations and domain walls, are examined by optical microscopy, electron channeling contrast imaging, piezo-response force microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy methods to shed light on the toughening mechanisms. In addition, high-temperature (above the Curie temperature of KNbO3) indentation tests were performed to exclude the influence of ferroelastic toughening, such that the origin of the toughening effect is pinpointed to be dislocations.