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Materials study probes flash sintering of high-tech ceramics

Materials study probes flash sintering of high-tech ceramics

Magazine Section: Our People, Our Culture
College or School: CoE
Article Type: Article
A new project will study a method that uses electrical fields to enhance ceramics-sintering processing to manufacture components for a range of military and commercial applications.

Creating the components is expensive because they are made from a powder that is sintered (fused together), which requires exposure to 1,500 degrees Celsius for several hours.

Purdue postdoctoral research associate Jie Jian places a ceramic sample.
(Photo credit: Purdue University/Erin Easterling)

Now, researchers are working to understand a new technique that could reduce manufacturing costs while speeding the process. The team will study field-assisted sintering technology (FAST) — a process in which applying an electric field enhances sintering. One form takes seconds and reduces the temperature by 50 percent or less.

“Our scope is to understand why within a matter of seconds and at such a low temperature you can facilitate sintering,” says Haiyan Wang, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering in Purdue University’s School of Materials Engineering, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Understanding the mechanisms behind the FAST process could speed commercial development of bulk ceramics-sintering processing for a range of applications, such as rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells.

The research team will pursue three objectives: understanding interactions between the electric field and matter under processing conditions; providing theories and software for science and engineering; and developing rules and guidelines for materials engineers to use in manufacturing settings.

The project officially started in January.