Nanoscale potassium niobate (KNbO 3 ) powders of orthorhombic structure were synthesized using the sol-gel method. The heat-treatment temperature of the gels had a pronounced effect on KNbO 3 particle size and morphology. Field emission scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy were used to determine particle size and morphology. The average KNbO 3 grain size was estimated to be less than 100 nm, and transmission electron microscopy images indicated that KNbO 3 particles had a brick-like morphology. Synchrotron X-ray diffraction was used to identify the room-temperature structures using Rietveld refinement. The ferroelectric orthorhombic phase was retained even for particles smaller than 50 nm. The orthorhombic to tetragonal and tetragonal to cubic phase transitions of nanocrystalline KNbO 3 were investigated using temperature-dependent powder X-ray diffraction. Differential scanning calorimetry was used to examine the temperature dependence of KNbO 3 phase transition. The Curie temperature and phase transition were independent of particle size, and Rietveld analyses showed increasing distortions with decreasing particle size. © 2011 Chen et al.
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