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

Hui Zhang, Qianqian Jin, Tao Hu, Xiaochun Liu, Zezhong Zhang, Chunfeng Hu, Yanchun Zhou, Yu Han, Xiaohui Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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-Ti3 AlC2 transforms to unconventional β-Ti3 AlC2. 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.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1288-1297
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Advanced Ceramics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 5 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-07-11
Acknowledgements: We thank the National Center for Electron Microscopy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Monash Center for Electron Microscopy for the microscope access during the initial stage of this project.


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