The crystal structure of disordered (Zr,Ti)O2 solid solution including srilankite: Evolution towards tetragonal ZrO2 with increasing Zr

Ulrike Troitzsch*, A. G. Christy, D. J. Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    58 Citations (Scopus)


    Crystal structure data are presented for seven synthetic samples of disordered zirconium-titanate solid solution (Zr,Ti)O2, ranging in composition from xTi=0.43 to 0.67, thus covering compounds such as ZrTiO4, Zr5Ti7 O24, and ZrTi2O6 (srilankite). The compounds, synthesized at high temperatures and various pressures in their respective stability fields, are well crystallized and of homogeneous composition. The resulting structure data are less scattered compared to previous studies that were based on compounds synthesized metastably at low temperatures and room pressure. The compounds have the structure of scrutinyite (α-PbO2) with space group Pbcn, Z = 4, unit cell parameters a = 4.8495(3) Å, b = 5.4635(3) Å, c = 5.0462(3) Å at xTi=0.425 to a = 4.7112(2) Å, b = 5.4944(1) Å, c = 4.9962(1) Å at xTi=0.666. The first structure refinement of pure, synthetic srilankite is presented, which is in good agreement with that of the natural counterpart. Structural trends observed in disordered zirconium-titanate solid solution along the binary join ZrO2 -TiO2 are relatively smooth and continuous, except for rapid lengthening of an unshared octahedral edge which is anomalously short in scrutinyite-structure TiO2. The shortness of this edge may explain the observed instability of this structure with the relatively small Ti as the dominant cation. With increasing Zr content, the average cation position moves off-centre inside the octahedron, away from two shared edges, which permits the 12 closest cation-cation distances in the structure to become more equal. The shortening of the b dimension with increasing amount of the larger cation Zr decreases the distance between octahedral Zr and two additional oxygens in an adjacent chain of edge-sharing octahedra, implying that the Zr environment is evolving towards eightfold coordination. If the two additional oxygens are considered as part of the Zr coordination polyhedron, the bonding topology of tetragonal zirconia is obtained. The compositional evolution of the cell parameters, Zr atomic coordinates and Zr coordination environment is consistent with the idea that the structure is evolving towards that of tetragonal ZrO2. Group-theoretical relationships between scrutinyite, tetragonal zirconia, baddeleyite and fluorite structures show that the sequence of structures fluorite > tetragonal zirconia > crutinyite > baddeleyite are all related by potentially diffusionless phase transitions driven by wavelike displacements of the oxygen substructure. The scrutinyite and tetragonal structures can act outside their stability fields as "transition states" between the structures on either side.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)504-514
    Number of pages11
    JournalPhysics and Chemistry of Minerals
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


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