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Thermodynamic Control of Phase Composition and Crystallization of Metal-Modified Silicon Oxycarbides


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Silicon oxycarbides modified with main group or transition metals (SiMOC) are usually synthesized via pyrolysis of sol-gel precursors from suitable metal-modified orthosilicates or polysiloxanes. In this study, the phase composition of different SiMOC systems (M = Sn, Fe, Mn, V, and Lu) was investigated. Depending on the metal, different ceramic phases formed. For M = Mn and Lu, MOx/SiOC ceramic nanocomposites were formed, whereas other compositions revealed the formation of M/SiOC (M = Sn), MSix/SiOC (M = Fe) or MCx/SiOC (M = V) upon pyrolysis. The different phase compositions of the SiMOC materials are rationalized by a simple thermodynamic approach which generally correctly predicts which type of ceramic nanocomposite is expected upon ceramization of the metal-modified precursors. Calculations show that the thermodynamic stability of the MOx phase with respect to that of the CO system is the most important factor to predict phase formation in polymer-derived SiMOC ceramic systems. A secondary factor is the relative stability of metal oxides, silicates, carbides, and silicides.