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Keywords:

  • GE-7031 varnish;
  • scandium trifluoride;
  • low-temperature X-ray diffraction;
  • powder X-ray diffraction;
  • negative thermal expansion;
  • composites

GE-7031 varnish, a commonly used low-temperature adhesive and electrical insulator owing to its high thermal conductivity and mechanical strength at low temperatures, was used as a sample matrix for low-temperature powder X-ray diffraction measurements of the negative thermal expansion (NTE) material ScF3. When ScF3 powder was mixed with GE-7031 varnish, an unexpected cubic to rhombohedral phase transition in the ScF3 sample was observed at ∼50 K, and it exhibited smaller low-temperature unit-cell volumes than samples without the varnish matrix. Experimental observations and quantitative estimates suggest that these anomalies are the result of stress induced by a thermal expansion mismatch between the varnish matrix (large positive coefficient of thermal expansion, CTE) and ScF3 (quite large negative CTE). The use of GE-7031 varnish as a sample matrix for low-temperature measurements should be approached with caution if a large thermal expansion mismatch is expected.