The structural variations within monoclinic, tetragonal and cubic zirconia pellets with different amounts of yttria doping and its subsequent exposure to various proton, silver ion and gamma irradiation fluxes were investigated using photoluminescence spectroscopy. Upon ion irradiation color centers were produced at doses >1015 ions/cm2 resulting in purple coloration. The decrease in photoluminescence intensity was observed for proton irradiated pellets except for tetragonal zirconia (6YSZ: 6 mol% Y2O3 doped ZrO2). The anomalous behaviour in case of tetragonal zirconia may result from short range ordering of oxygen vacancies around Zr ions occurring in order to relieve the stress/lattice distortions associated with proton impingement.
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