Thermally induced structural relaxation in amorphous silicon carbide (SiC) has been examined by means of in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The amorphous SiC was prepared by high-energy ion beam irradiation into a single crystalline 4H-SiC substrate. Cross-sectional TEM observations and electron energy-loss spectroscopy measurements revealed that thermal annealing induces a remarkable volume reduction, so-called densification, of amorphous SiC. From radial distribution function analyses using electron diffraction, notable changes associated with structural relaxation were observed in chemical short-range order. It was confirmed that the structural changes observed by the in situ TEM study agree qualitatively with those of the bulk material. On the basis of the alteration of chemical short-range order, we discuss the origin of thermally induced densification in amorphous SiC.
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