Ceramic materials have been widely used for structural applications. However, most ceramics have rather limited plasticity at low temperatures and fracture well before the onset of plastic yielding. The brittle nature of ceramics arises from the lack of dislocation activity and the need for high stress to nucleate dislocations. Here, we have investigated the deformability of TiO2 prepared by a flash-sintering technique. Our in situ studies show that the flash-sintered TiO2 can be compressed to ~10% strain under room temperature without noticeable crack formation. The room temperature plasticity in flash-sintered TiO2 is attributed to the formation of nanoscale stacking faults and nanotwins, which may be assisted by the high-density preexisting defects and oxygen vacancies introduced by the flash-sintering process. Distinct deformation behaviors have been observed in flash-sintered TiO2 deformed at different testing temperatures, ranging from room temperature to 600°C. Potential mechanisms that may render ductile ceramic materials are discussed.
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