Microstructure and mechanical property of silicon nitride (Si3N4) ceramic are strongly dependent on the selection of sintering additives. When rare-earth (RE) oxide is used as the sintering additive, segregation of RE ions at interface between Si3N4 grain and intergranular glassy film (IGF) is believed to play a critical role. Although the ionic radius of RE ion is known to be an empirical parameter to modify the mechanical property, the correlation between the segregated ions and their ionic radii is still under controversy. In order to address this issue, (i) rate of α-β phase transformation and (ii) segregation behavior at the interface were studied for Si3N4 ceramics sintered using mixture of La2O3 and Lu2O3 as additives in this study. Specimens of Lu content 30% and higher exhibited lower activation energies for the α-β phase transformation as compared with those of Lu content 20% and lower. In terms of the segregation behavior, La was preferably segregated at one site and Lu at the other site along β-Si3N4/IGF interface in the specimens of Lu content 30% and higher. It is understood from these results that Lu segregation site should be more closely related with grain growth.
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