Defect creation in refractory oxides known to be unsensitive to radiolysis, was shown to take place by high level electronic excitations induced by swift heavy ions or energetic cluster bombardments. Depending on the oxide a threshold in electronic energy loss for damage production was observed : MgO 22 keV/nm, AI2O3 20 keV/nm and LiNbO3 6 keV/nm. A very strong dependence on the energy deposited for the defect production was evidenced above the threshold. In MgO, both point and extended defects were created whereas in AI2O3 only extended defects were observed and in LiNbO3 amorphization in the ion track was evidenced.
Atomic displacements due to the giant electronic excitations can be revealed at metal-oxide interfaces in the case of Na nanoprecipitates embedded in MgO single crystals.