Grain boundaries and interfaces of crystals have peculiar electronic structures, caused by the disorder in periodicity, providing the functional properties, which cannot be observed in a perfect crystal. In the vicinity of the grain boundaries and interfaces, dopants or impurities are often segregated, and they play a crucial role in deciding the properties of a material. Spherical aberration (Cs)-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), allowing the formation of sub-angstrom-sized electron probes, can directly observe grain boundary-segregated dopants. On the other hand, ceramic materials are composed of light elements, and these light elements also play an important role in the properties of ceramic materials. Recently, annular bright-field (ABF)-STEM imaging has been proposed, which is now known to be a very powerful technique in producing images showing both light- and heavy-element columns simultaneously. In this review, the atomic structure determination of ceramic grain boundaries and direct observation of grain boundary-segregated dopants and light elements in ceramics were shown to combine with the theoretical calculations. Examples are demonstrated for well-defined grain boundaries in rare earth-doped Al 2O 3 and ZnO ceramics, CeO 2 and SrTiO 3 grain boundary, lithium battery materials and metal hydride, which were characterized by Cs-corrected high-angle annular dark-field and ABF-STEM. It is concluded that the combination of STEM characterization and first-principles calculation is very useful in interpreting the structural information and in understanding the origin of the properties in various ceramics.
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