It was shown that a single phase YBa2Cu4O8 (124-phase) could be formed from gels at 1 atm oxygen pressure, and the mechanism of its formation was elucidated. It was found that there are two key routes for the sol-gel formation of the 124-phase, one involving the tetragonal YBa2Cu3Oy with a low concentration of oxygen defects (tetra-I phase) and the other involving the Ba2Cu3O5.9 as important intermediates of the 124-phase. The rapid formation of these intermediate compounds from the gel was attributed to the small particle size of the oxides and carbonates precipitating at the initial stage of heating. It was thought that the small particles characteristic of sol-gel processing lead to the rapid formation of the intermediate compounds and subsequent precipitation of the 124-phase.
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