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•Yttria at nanoscale

Washington, D.C., 24 August 2010- A recent discovery published in Physical Review Letters shows that particle size of Yttria (Y2O3) affects its phase stability in a surprising way, a finding with important implications for the use of yttrium oxide as a nanomaterial. 

Yttria (Y2O3) is an important industrial compound widely used in large-screen TVs, high-pressure mercury vapor lamps, and as a host material for yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG) lasers.

Yttria consisting of different nanometer size particles is found to behave very differently under pressure.Small particle samples of the normal cubic form transform to an amorphous material at high pressures above 30 GPa. However, yttria made up of larger particles transforms to another crystalline form at lower pressures. The observations reveal the important role that particle size can play in the behavior of materials under extreme conditions. 

The research team plans to continue their work studying both Y2O3 and other materials, examining how various nanomaterial and bulk compounds with differing particle sizes behave under extreme conditions.

The article is published as: L. Wang et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 095701 (2010). Related News Story: http://www.aps.

The feature image molecule refers to connections between the nearest octahedra. There are two different connections: one is edge-shared (two octahedra share two O atoms with each other), another one is corner-shared (two octahedra share one O atom with each other).