Ion irradiation effects in nonmetals: formation of nanocrystals and novel microstructures
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Ion implantation is a versatile and powerful technique for producing nanocrystal precipitates embedded in the near-surface region of materials. Radiation effects that occur during the implantation process can lead to complex microstructures and particle size distributions, and in the present work, we focus on the application of these effects to produce novel microstructural properties for insulating or semiconducting nanocrystals formed in optical host materials. Nanocrystal precipitates can be produced in two ways: by irradiation of pure (i.e., non-implanted) crystalline or amorphous materials, or by ion implantation followed by either thermal annealing or subsequent additional irradiation. Different methods for the formation of novel structural relationships between embedded nanocrystals and their hosts have been developed, and the results presented here demonstrate the general flexibility of ion implantation and irradiation techniques for producing unique near-surface nanocomposite microstructures in irradiated host materials.
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