Amorphization by dislocation accumulation in shear bands
Microcrystalline γ-Y2Si2O7 was indented at room temperature and the deformation microstructure was investigated by transmission electron microscopy in the vicinity of the indent. The volume directly beneath the indent comprises nanometer-sized grains delimited by an amorphous phase while dislocations dominate in the periphery either as dense slip bands in the border of the indent or, further away, as individual dislocations. The amorphous layers and the slip bands are a few nanometers thick. They lie along well-defined crystallographic planes. The microstructural organization is consistent with a stress-induced amorphization process whereby, under severe mechanical conditions, the crystal to amorphous transformation is mediated by slip bands containing a high density of dislocations. It is suggested that the damage tolerance of γ-Y2Si2O7, which is exceptional for a ceramic material, benefits from this transformation.