By using a high-pressure reaction, we prepared a new oxynitride ZnTaO2N that crystallizes in a centrosymmetric (R3̅c) high-temperature LiNbO3-type structure (HTLN-type). The stabilization of the HTLN-type structure down to low temperatures (at least 20 K) makes it possible to investigate not only the stability of this phase, but also the phase transition to a noncentrosymmetric (R3c) LiNbO3-type structure (LN-type) which is yet to be clarified. Synchrotron and neutron diffraction studies in combination with transmission electron microscopy show that Zn is located at a disordered 12c site instead of 6a, implying an order-disorder mechanism of the phase transition. It is found that the closed d-shell of Zn2+, as well as the high-valent Ta5+ ion, is responsible for the stabilization of the HTLN-type structure, affording a novel quasitriangular ZnO2N coordination. Interestingly, only 3% Zn substitution for MnTaO2N induces a phase transition from LN- to HTLN-type structure, implying the proximity in energy between the two structural types, which is supported by the first-principles calculations.
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- Colloid and Surface Chemistry