Silica and titania based ceramics and their analogs are some of the most fundamental in crystal chemistry and ceramic science Our interests include applications of nanostructures and chemical composites of the ceramics in nanoelectronics, chemical processes and as scaffolds in biotechnologies. Finely divided titania is used in a vast array of products including paper, paint, food and clothing. Novel microscopy methods including dynamic environmental-high resolution transmission EM (EHREM) at the atomic level, FESEM and cathodoluminescence are leading to striking progress in the development of the ceramic nanotechnologies.
Phase transformations in the cristobalite form of silica, from the tetragonal a phase (low or room temperature form) to the cubic β phase (high temperature, (270°C) form) result in discontinuous thermal expansion and are not conducive to nanotechnology. Here we report fundamental in situatomic resolution studies of the phase transformations using EHREM and have used the results to design a number of stable, single-phase structures at room temperature (RT).