This study searches for small molecules, which can be generated by photoacid generators (PAGs) capable of inducing the tetragonal-to-monoclinic transformation in zirconia nanocrystals. Metastable tetragonal zirconia nanocrystals were exposed in alcohol suspension. X-ray diffraction analysis showed that water, HCl, HF, and NH3, all initiate phase transformation of tetragonal zirconia at room temperature, whereas NBu4Cl and NBu4OH do not. 2-(4-Methoxystyryl)-4,6-bis(trichloromethyl)-1,3,5-triazine) was the most efficient (monoclinic volume fraction reached 0.57) out of the four tested PAGs. For dispersion in a dimethacrylate matrix together with zirconia crystals, a monoclinic volume fraction of 0.19 was observed after 2 min of exposure to light, increasing to 0.6 after 30 min.
Journal of Composite Materials, 2012, Vol 46, Issue 23, p. 2911-2917