Surface Energies and Thermodynamic Phase Stability in Nanocrystalline Aluminas

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Science  08 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5327, pp. 788-791
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5327.788

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Corundum, α-Al2O3, is the thermodynamically stable phase of coarsely crystalline aluminum oxide, but syntheses of nanocrystalline Al2O3 usually result in γ-Al2O3. Adsorption microcalorimetry, thermogravimetric analyses, and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller adsorption experiments, coupled with recently reported high-temperature solution calorimetry data, prove that γ-Al2O3 has a lower surface energy than α-Al2O3 and becomes energetically stable at surface areas greater than 125 square meters per gram and thermodynamically stable at even smaller surface areas (for example, 75 square meters per gram at 800 kelvin). The results are in agreement with recent molecular dynamics simulations and provide conclusive experimental evidence that differences in surface energy can favor the formation of a particular polymorph.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. Present address: Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA. E-mail: anavrotsky{at}

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