Critical pressure for weakening of size-induced stiffness in spinel-structure Si[sub 3]N[sub 4] nanocrystals

Wang, Zhongwu; Zhao, Yusheng; Schiferl, David; Zha, C. S.; Downs, Robert T.; Sekine, T.
October 2003
Applied Physics Letters;10/13/2003, Vol. 83 Issue 15, p3174
Academic Journal
We demonstrate that the compressibility of spinel Si[sub 3]N[sub 4] nanocrystals increases when the pressure is raised above ∼40 GPa. Si[sub 3]N[sub 4] nanocrystals initially exhibit an extremely high bulk modulus of 685(45) GPa. But, above 40 GPa, the bulk modulus is reduced to 415(10) GPa. Thus, a critical pressure of ∼40 GPa was determined that signifies the onset of size-induced weakening of elastic stiffness in nanocrystalline Si[sub 3]N[sub 4]. Enhanced surface energy contributions to the shell layers of nanoparticles and the resulting effect on the corresponding large d-spacing planes are used to explain the observed phenomenon. Upon decompression, the bulk modulus of the Si[sub 3]N[sub 4] spinel remained at its lower value of 415 GPa. This study provides a reasonable explanation for the different compressibility properties of numerous nanocrystals. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.


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