We have investigated the microstructural and crystallographic evolution of nanocrystalline zirconia under heavy ion irradiation using in-situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and have studied the atomic configurations of defect clusters using aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Under heavy ion irradiation, the monoclinic phase is observed to transform into cubic-ZrO2, stabilized by the strain induced by irradiation-induced defect clusters. The study has also demonstrated that high resolution orientation mapping by transmission Kikuchi diffraction (TKD) combined with in-situ irradiation in a TEM is a powerful method to probe the mechanisms controlling irradiation-induced processes, including grain boundary migration, phase transformations and texture evolution.
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