Title:
SINGLE PHASE YTTRIUM PHOSPHATE HAVING THE XENOTIME CRYSTAL STRUCTURE AND METHOD FOR ITS SYNTHESIS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods for producing substantially single phase yttrium phosphate which exhibits the xenotime crystal structure are disclosed. The methods can be practiced without the use of high temperatures (e.g., the methods can be practiced at temperatures less than 1000° C.). The resulting yttrium phosphate can be in the form of particles which comprise interwoven strands of crystals of yttrium phosphate and/or nanoparticles prepared from such particles.



Inventors:
Gray, Sandra Lee (Horseheads, NY, US)
Witham, Richard Donald (Boulder City, NV, US)
Application Number:
13/845484
Publication Date:
01/09/2014
Filing Date:
03/18/2013
Assignee:
CORNING INCORPORATED (CORNING, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
C01B25/37
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
SU865787A1
Other References:
Lucas, et al., "Rare earth phosphate powders RePO4 ... " J. of Solid State Chemistry, 177, 2004, pp. 1312-20.
Hikichi et al., "Thermal, Mechanical and Chemical Properites ... or Lu)" J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 81(8), 1998, pp. 2216-18.
Primary Examiner:
BOS, STEVEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CORNING INCORPORATED (SP-TI-3-1 CORNING NY 14831)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A composition comprising substantially single phase yttrium phosphate compounds which exhibit the xenotime crystal structure where the compounds satisfy the formula:
YaPO4 where a ranges from 1.000 to 1.005.

2. A composition comprising substantially single phase yttrium phosphate compounds which exhibit the xenotime crystal structure where the compounds satisfy the formula:
YaPO4 where a ranges from 1.000 to 1.0025.

3. The composition of claim 1 wherein the composition is in the form of particles which comprise interwoven strands of crystals of the yttrium phosphate compounds.

4. Nanosize particles prepared from the composition of claim 3.

5. A composition comprising hydrated yttrium phosphate compounds having the crystal structure of the mineral churchite wherein the hydrated yttrium phosphate compounds satisfy the formula:
YaPO4·nH2O, where a ranges from 1.000 to 1.005.

6. A composition comprising hydrated yttrium phosphate compounds having the crystal structure of the mineral churchite wherein the hydrated yttrium phosphate compounds satisfy the formula: YaPO4·nH2O, where a is ranges from 1.000 to 1.0025.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/303,658 filed on Jun. 1, 2007, which claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §365 of International Patent Application Serial No. PCT/US07/012915 filed on Jun. 1, 2007 designating the United States of America, and which claims the benefit under 35 USC §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/811,222 filed Jun. 5, 2006, the contents of which in its entirety are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

This invention relates generally to yttrium phosphate and a method for producing it in commercial quantities, and is particularly concerned with a pure or single phase yttrium phosphate having the xenotime crystal structure and a process for synthesizing it without utilizing extremely high temperatures.

In recent years many researchers have explored the use of yttrium phosphate in the field of ceramic materials. Yttrium phosphate appears to be valuable for use in laminate composites, as a fiber-matrix interface in ceramic matrix composites and as coatings for thermal protection. It appears to be particularly useful as a coating because of its resistance to expansion when exposed to high temperatures.

Although the synthesis of yttrium phosphate by various researchers has been reported, either via expensive high-temperature solid state reactions and wet chemical precipitation, large quantities of yttrium phosphate for commercial applications do not appear to be available. Furthermore, it is very important in the field of ceramic materials processing that any yttrium phosphate utilized be free of secondary phases and other impurities. Thus, there is a distinct need for the development of relatively inexpensive methods to synthesize large quantities of pure or single phase yttrium phosphate, especially yttrium phosphate having the xenotime crystal structure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the invention, it has now been found that pure phase yttrium phosphate with the xenotime crystal structure can be synthesized using a relatively low temperature process that begins by forming a slurry of a solid and relatively insoluble yttrium compound, preferably yttrium oxide, in water. Phosphoric acid is then added to the slurry in an amount less than the stoichiometric amount required to form yttrium phosphate. Thus, the mole ratio of yttrium to phosphorus in the slurry is greater than 1.0. An inorganic acid, preferably nitric acid, is then added to the slurry to react with the excess yttrium compound and thereby form a water-soluble yttrium salt. The solid yttrium phosphate formed by the reaction of the yttrium compound with the phosphoric acid, which is substantially free of any excess phosphoric acid and yttrium compound, is then removed from the slurry, washed to remove soluble impurities and dried, usually at temperatures well below 1000° C. The resultant material is a single or pure phase yttrium phosphate having the xenotime crystal structure that is free of unreacted yttrium compound and phosphoric acid and contains no other forms of yttrium phosphate. The fact that this pure phase yttrium phosphate can be made without the need to utilize temperatures above 1000° C. means that the use of the process of the invention results in substantial cost savings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1 and 2 are XRD patterns. In particular, FIG. 1 is an XRD pattern of a sample obtained from an in-progress test after phosphoric acid addition, then filtered, washed and dried at 1,000° C., while FIG. 2 shows the transformation to single phase yttrium phosphate after reaction with mineral acid, washing and drying to 1,000° C.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are images of Thermogravametric (TGA) and Differential Scanning calorimetry tests performed on the same samples as FIGS. 1 and 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The first step in the process of the invention for producing commercial amounts of yttrium phosphate is the formation of a slurry containing a yttrium compound. Any solid yttrium compound that is relatively insoluble in water can be used. Typically, the yttrium compound will have a solubility less than about 0.1 grams/liter. Examples of yttrium compounds that can be used include yttrium oxide, yttrium carbonate, yttrium bicarbonate and hydroxide. Generally, enough of the solid yttrium compound is mixed with water so that the resultant slurry contains between about 0.5 and 50 weight percent solids, preferably between about 3.0 and about 20 weight percent, and more preferably between about 5 and 15 weight percent.

While the aqueous slurry of the yttrium compound is vigorously agitated, phosphoric acid is added to form yttrium phosphate. It has been found that using a stoichiometric amount of phosphoric acid results in the formation of yttrium phosphate containing unreacted yttrium compound and unreacted phosphoric acid as well as non-xenotime yttrium phosphate. It is theorized that this contaminated yttrium phosphate results from an incomplete reaction due to the encapsulation of unreacted yttrium compound and the slow disassociation of phosphoric acid. It has been surprisingly found that limiting the amount of the phosphoric acid that is added to less than the stoichiometric amount needed ultimately results in the formation of a pure single phase yttrium phosphate with the xenotime mineral structure. Thus, the phosphoric acid is added to the aqueous slurry of the yttrium compound in an amount that is less than the stoichiometric amount required for the formation of yttrium phosphate.

Generally, a 75 to 85 weight percent solution of phosphoric acid is added to the slurry over a period of about 15 minutes to about 90 minutes as the slurry is continuously agitated and maintained at a temperature that typically ranges between about 20° C. and about 70° C. The amount of the phosphoric acid added to the slurry is usually about 1.5 molar percent less than the amount of the yttrium compound present in the slurry. When the yttrium compound used is yttrium oxide, the reaction takes place to form yttrium phosphate, minor amounts of yttrium oxide, minor amounts of surface adsorbed phosphoric acid and water. The yttrium phosphate formed comprises approximately 95.5 percent of the solids portion in the slurry.

In order to remove the excess yttrium oxide and phosphoric acid from the solids in the slurry, a small amount of an inorganic acid is added to the slurry. The acid releases the yttrium compound and phosphoric acid from the yttrium phosphate and allows them to react on their own until the phosphoric acid is consumed. The 1.5 molar percent excess of the yttrium compound reacts with the acid to form a soluble yttrium salt which dissolves in the aqueous phase of the slurry. When yttrium oxide is used as the yttrium compound and nitric acid is used as the inorganic acid, the reaction provides soluble yttrium nitrate which combines with the remaining phosphoric acid to produce yttrium phosphate solids and with minor amounts of yttrium nitrate in solution.

The yttrium phosphate, which at this point in the process has the crystal structure of the mineral churchite (hydrated yttrium phosphate), is then separated from the aqueous phase by filtration, centrifugation or other liquid-solids separation technique.

Although nitric acid is used for purposes of illustration, many other inorganic acids can normally be utilized to solubilize the excess yttrium compound to remove it from the precipitated yttrium phosphate. Examples of such acids include hydrobromic acid, hydroiodic acid, and sulfuric acid.

Once the yttrium phosphate is removed from the aqueous phase of the slurry, it is normally washed with water to remove any residual soluble impurities and then dried at temperatures below 1000° C. It has been found that the yttrium phosphate removed from the aqueous slurry is ultra high purity, single phase needle crystals of the mineral churchite and is essentially free of unreacted constituents and non-churchite yttrium phosphate. The drying step is only needed to drive off moisture converting the yttrium phosphate from the churchite to the xenotime crystal structure and not to decompose unreacted yttrium compound, phosphoric acid, or other impurities. The conversion from churchite to xenotime crystal structure occurs at approximately 300° C. In view of this, substantial cost savings can be obtained by drying the yttrium phosphate at relatively low temperatures between about 300° C. and 900° C., preferably at a temperature below 500° C.

The yttrium phosphate recovered from the drying step is substantially pure single phase yttrium phosphate of the xenotime crystal structure. The molecular formula is YaPO4 where a ranges from 1.000 to 1.005. Preferably, the amount of yttrium present does not exceed 0.25 mole percent excess Y based on the formula YPO4. The particles of the yttrium phosphate formed are needle-like and appear in the form of soft clumps of interwoven strands of fine crystals. The clumps can be easily spread apart to form nanosize particles.

The nature and objects of the invention are further illustrated by the following examples, which are provided for illustrative purposes only and not to limit the invention as defined by the claims. The examples show the effect of using mineral acid to dissolve excess yttrium oxide and form pure phase yttrium phosphate.

FIG. 1, i.e., XRD pattern of sample DW-15-127-1, illustrates the solid material, predominantly yttrium phosphate, with minor amounts of yttrium oxide present. The sample was obtained from an in-progress test after phosphoric acid addition, then filtered, washed and dried at 1,000° C.

FIG. 2, i.e., XRD pattern DW-15-127-3, shows the transformation from material as shown in DW-15-127-1 to single phase yttrium phosphate after reaction with mineral acid, washing and drying to 1,000° C.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are images of Thermogravametric (TGA) and Differential Scanning calorimetry tests performed on the same samples as FIGS. 1 and 2. FIGS. 3 and 4 confirm phase purity due to the absence of further phase transformations.

Although the invention has been described in detail for the purpose of illustration, it is understood that such detail is solely for that purpose and variations can be made therein by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention which is defined by the following claims.