Yttria-stabilized zirconia

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Yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) is a ceramic in which the crystal structure of zirconium dioxide is made stable at room temperature by an addition of yttrium oxide. These oxides are commonly called "zirconia" (ZrO2) and "yttria" (Y2O3), hence the name.



Pure zirconium dioxide undergoes a phase transformation from monoclinic (stable at the room temperature) to tetragonal (at about 1000 °C) and then to cubic (at about 2370 °C), according to the scheme:

monoclinic (1173 °C) \leftrightarrow tetragonal (2370 °C) \leftrightarrow cubic (2690 °C) \leftrightarrow melt

Obtaining stable sintered zirconia ceramic products is difficult because of the large volume change accompanying the transition from tetragonal to monoclinic (about 9%). Stabilization of the cubic polymorph of zirconia over wider range of temperatures is accomplished by substitution of some of the Zr4+ ions (ionic radius of 0.82 Å, too small for ideal lattice of fluorite characteristic for the tetragonal zirconia) in the crystal lattice with slightly larger ions, e.g., those of Y3+ (ionic radius of 0.96 Å). The resulting doped zirconia materials are termed stabilized zirconias.[1]

Materials related to YSZ include calcia-, magnesia-, ceria- or alumina-stabilized zirconias, or partially stabilized zirconias (PSZ). Hafnia stabilized Zirconia is also known[citation needed].

Some of the abbreviations used in conjunction with stabilized zirconias are as follow:

  • Partly stabilized zirconia ZrO2:
    • PSZ - Partially Stabilized Zirconia
    • TZP -Tetragonal Zirconia Polycrystal
    • 4YSZ: with 4 mol-% Y2O3 partially Stabilized ZrO2, Yttria Stabilized Zirconia
  • Fully stabilized zirconias ZrO2:
    • FSZ - Fully Stabilized Zirconia
    • CSZ - Cubic Stabilized Zirconia
    • 8YSZ - with 8 mol-% Y2O3 Fully Stabilized ZrO2

Thermal expansion coefficient[edit]

The thermal expansion coefficients depends on the modification of zirconia as follows:

  • Monoclinic: 7 · 10−6/K[2]
  • Tetragonal: 12 · 10−6/K[2]
  • Y2O3 stabilized: 10.5 · 10−6/K[2]

Effect of stabilization of ionic conductivity[edit]

The addition of yttria to pure zirconia replaces some of the Zr4+ ions in the zirconia lattice with Y3+ ions. This produces oxygen vacancies, as three O2− ions replace four O2− ions. It also permits yttrium stabilized zirconia to conduct O2− ions (and thus conduct an electric current), provided there is sufficient vacancy site mobility, a property that increases with temperature. This ability to conduct O2− ions makes yttria-stabilized zirconia well suited to use in solid oxide fuel cells, although it requires that they operate at high enough temperatures.

The ionic conductivity of the stabilized zirconias increases with increasing dopant concentration (linearly for low dopant concentrations), then saturates, and then starts to decrease. The maximum ionic conductivity is obtained at Y2O3 concentration of about 8% (1000 °C).[1]


Multiple metal-free dental crowns

YSZ has a number of applications:

  • For its hardness and chemical inertness (e.g., tooth crowns).
  • As a refractory (e.g., in jet engines).
  • As a thermal barrier coating in gas turbines
  • As an electroceramic due to its ion-conducting properties (e.g., to determine oxygen content in exhaust gases, to measure pH in high-temperature water, in fuel cells).
  • Used in the production of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). YSZ is used as the solid electrolyte, which enables oxygen ion conduction while blocking electronic conduction. In order to achieve sufficient ion conduction, an SOFC with a YSZ electrolyte must be operated at high temperatures (800 °C-1000 °C). While it is advantageous that YSZ retains mechanical robustness at those temperatures, the high temperature necessary is often a disadvantage of SOFCs. The high density of YSZ is also necessary in order to physically separate the gaseous fuel from oxygen, or else the electrochemical system would produce no electrical power.[3][4]
  • For its hardness and optical properties in monocrystal form (see "cubic zirconia"), it is used as jewelry.
  • As a material for non-metallic knife blades, produced by Boker and Kyocera companies.
  • In water-based pastes for do-it-yourself ceramics and cements. These contain microscopic YSZ milled fibers or sub-micrometer particles, often with potassium silicate and zirconium acetate binders (at mildly acidic pH). The cementation occurs on removal of water. The resulting ceramic material is suitable for very high temperature applications.
  • YSZ doped with rare-earth materials can act as a thermographic phosphor and a luminescent material.[5]
  • Historically used for glowing rods in Nernst lamps.
  • As a high precision alignment sleeve for optical fiber connector ferrules.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b H. Yanagida, K. Koumoto, M. Miyayama, "The Chemistry of Ceramics", John Wiley & Sons, 1996. ISBN 0 471 95627 9.
  2. ^ a b c Matweb: CeramTec 848 Zirconia (ZrO2) & Zirconium Oxide, Zirconia, ZrO2
  3. ^ Minh, N.Q. (1993). "Ceramic Fuel-Cells". Journal of the American Ceramic Society 76 (3): 563–588. doi:10.1111/j.1151-2916.1993.tb03645.x. 
  4. ^ De Guire, Eileen (2003). "Solid Oxide Fuel Cells". CSA. 
  5. ^ American Ceramic Society (29 May 2009). Progress in Thermal Barrier Coatings. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-0-470-40838-4. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  6. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Green, D.J.; Hannink, R.; Swain, M.V. (1989). Transformation Toughening of Ceramics. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-6594-5.