Crystal structure solution for the A6B2O17 (A = Zr, Hf; B = Nb, Ta) superstructure

Scott J. McCormack, Waltraud M. Kriven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zr6Ta2O17, Hf6Nb2O17 and Hf6Ta2O17 crystal structure solutions have been solved using synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction and neutron powder diffraction in conjunction with simulated annealing, charge flipping and Rietveld refinement. These structures have been shown to be isomorphous with the Zr6Nb2O17 superstructure, leading to the classification of the A6B2O17 (A = Zr, Hf; B = Nb, Ta) orthorhombic compound family with symmetry Ima2 (No. 46). The asymmetrical structural units of cation-centred oxygen polyhedra used to build the structure are as follows: (i) one set of symmetry-equivalent six-coordinated polyhedra, (ii) three sets of symmetry-equivalent seven-coordinated polyhedra and (iii) one set of symmetry-equivalent eight-coordinated polyhedra. The potential for cation order and disorder was discussed in terms of cation atomic number contrast in X-ray and neutron powder diffraction as well as the bond valence method. In addition, the structural mechanisms for experimentally observed compositional variations within the solid solution range can be attributed to the addition or removal of a set of symmetry-equivalent seven-coordinated polyhedra accompanied by corresponding oxygen tilts within the A6B2O17 structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalActa Crystallographica Section B: Structural Science, Crystal Engineering and Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • crystal structure solution
  • hafnium niobate HfNbO
  • hafnium tantalate HfTaO
  • neutron powder diffraction
  • synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction
  • zirconium niobate ZrNbO
  • zirconium tantalate ZrTaO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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