Abnormal or discontinuous grain growth, also referred to as exaggerated or secondary recrystallisation grain growth, is a grain growth phenomenon through which certain energetically favorable grains (crystallites) grow rapidly in a matrix of finer grains resulting in a bimodal grain size distribution.
In ceramic materials this phenomenon can result in the formation of elongated prismatic, acicular (needle-like) grains in a densified matrix with implications for improved fracture toughness through the impedance of crack propagation.
Although many gaps remain in our fundamental understanding of AGG phenomena, in all cases abnormal grain growth occurs as a result of very high local rates of interface migration and is enhanced by the localised formation of liquid at grain boundaries.
Abnormal grain growth is often recorded as an undesirable phenomenon occurring during the sintering of ceramic materials as rapidly growing grains may lower the hardness of the bulk material through Hall Petch type effects. However, the controlled introduction of dopants to bring about controlled AGG may be used to impart fibre-toughening in ceramic materials. In piezoelectric ceramics the occurrence of AGG may bring about the degradation of piezoelectric effect and thus in these systems AGG is avoided.