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However, the situation is very different after sintering; nitrogen, in solid solution after milling, creates nanocrystalline aluminium nitride (AlN) and aluminium oxynitride ([Al.sub.5][O.sub.6]N) (12 [+ or -] 0.5 and 4 [+ or -] 0.2 nm, resp., also calculated by XRD) during powder heating (Figure 5(b)).
Phase Material MA A 500-1 S MA A 500-3 S MA A 500-5 S Aluminium (Al) 78.45 46.41 28.87 Aluminium nitride (AlN) 6.22 20.25 49.58 Aluminium oxynitride 15.33 33.33 21.55 ([Al.sub.5][O.sub.6]N)
The material, aluminium oxynitride, known as AION, is four times harder than fused silica glass, 85 per cent as hard as sapphire and stable up to a temperature of 1,200C.
Formation of aluminium oxynitride is characteristic for AlN-[Y.sub.2][O.sub.3] and AlN-[Gd.sub.2][O.sub.3] systems, but in these systems the higher content of oxygen and presence of rare-earth elements stimulate formation of [Y.sub.3][Al.sub.5][O.sub.12] or GdAl[O.sub.3].