Doe Science news source

The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2017-04-20 06:45:24
  • Article ID: 673292

In a Flash! A New Way for Making Ceramics

A new process controllably but instantly consolidates ceramic parts, potentially important for manufacturing.

  • Credit: Image courtesy of Eugene Olevsky

    A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrograph of silicon carbide (SiC) powder (left), and SiC processed by flash spark-plasma sintering (SPS) for 1 to 2 seconds (right). The comparison shows only limited grain growth, an important property for manufacturing ceramic components.

The Science

Potentially saving precious processing time and significant amounts of energy in producing a variety of materials, a new method rapidly consolidates even hard-to-deform ceramic materials. The method stabilizes the processing temperature. It does so by applying an external pressure on the material. The pressure equalizes the distribution of temperature. The process almost instantaneously densifies the ceramic with only limited grain growth, confirming theoretical calculations.

The Impact

In this new process, scientists can manufacture difficult-to-deform super-hard ceramic materials into parts while preserving microstructural features. These features are important to maintain the material’s properties and vital for manufacturing ceramic components. The new process even worked on super-hard silicon carbide, SiC, a material used in bulletproof vests.

Summary

Scientists developed a new ultra-rapid consolidation process called “flash spark plasma sintering.” The process stabilizes the thermal runaway by applying an external pressure that equalizes the distribution of temperature. The process can be used to manufacture parts made from difficult-to-deform super-hard ceramic materials (for example, SiC) while maintaining the microstructural features important to their properties. Theory was advanced to understand the role of thermal runaway and used to develop the new flash spark plasma sintering (or flash hot pressing) process. The process used sacrificial dies to heat pre-compacted SiC powder specimens to a critical temperature before applying voltage to the powder volume and allowing the electrode-punches of the spark-plasma sintering apparatus to contact the specimens and pass electric current through them under elevated temperatures. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the SiC was almost instantaneously densified with limited grain growth proving out the theoretical considerations.

 

Funding

The support was from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Publication

E.A. Olevsky, S.M. Rolfing, and A.L. Maximenko, “Flash (ultra-rapid) spark-plasma sintering of silicon carbideExternal link.” Scientific Reports 6, 3348 (2016). [DOI: 10.1038/srep33408]

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What's On Your Skin? Archaea, That's What

It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms - (break)and they're not just bacteria. A study by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

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Microbe Mystery Solved: What Happened to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Plume

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Yi Cui Named Blavatnik National Laureate

Pioneering nanoscientist Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University and of photon science at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, has been named a 2017 Blavatnik National Laureate. The $250,000 award recognizes the most promising researchers age 42 and younger at top U.S. academic and research institutions.

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Cynthia Jenks Named Director of Argonne's Chemical Sciences and Engineering Division

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Argonne-Developed Technology for Producing Graphene Wins TechConnect National Innovation Award

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Honeywell UOP and Argonne Seek Research Collaborations in Catalysis Under Technologist in Residence Program

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Follow the Fantastic Voyage of the ICARUS Neutrino Detector

The ICARUS neutrino detector, born at Gran Sasso National Lab in Italy and refurbished at CERN, will make its way across the sea to Fermilab this summer. Follow along using an interactive map online.

JSA Awards Graduate Fellowships for Research at Jefferson Lab

Jefferson Sciences Associates announced today the award of eight JSA/Jefferson Lab graduate fellowships. The doctoral students will use the fellowships to support their advanced studies at their universities and conduct research at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) - a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear physics laboratory managed and operated by JSA, a joint venture between SURA and PAE Applied Technologies.


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Magnetic Particles that Flock Like Birds

Tracking movements of individual particles provides understanding of collective motions, synchronization and self-assembly.

Graphene Ribbons Result in 100-Fold Increase in Gold Catalyst's Performance

Bottom-up synthesis of tunable carbon nanoribbons provides a new route to enhance industrial, automotive reactions.

Breaking the Rules to Make Electricity from Waste Heat

More atomic bonds is the key for performance in a newly discovered family of cage-structured compounds.

Magnetic Curve Balls

A twisted array of atomic magnets were driven to move in a curved path, a needed level of control for use in future memory devices.

New "Gold Standard" for Flexible Electronics

Simple, economical process makes large-diameter, high-performance, thin, transparent, and conductive foils for bendable LEDs and more.

New Class of Porous Materials Better Separates Carbon Dioxide from Other Gases

Enhanced stability in the presence of water could help reduce smokestack emissions of greenhouse gases.

Manipulating Earth-Abundant Materials to Harness the Sun's Energy

New material based on common iron ore can help turn intermittent sunlight and water into long-lasting fuel.

Oxygen: The Jekyll and Hyde of Biofuels

Scientists are devising ways to protect plants, biofuels and, ultimately, the atmosphere itself from damage caused by an element that sustains life on earth.

The Rise of Giant Viruses

Research reveals that giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, with implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.

Grasses: The Secrets Behind Their Success

Researchers find a grass gene affecting how plants manage water and carbon dioxide that could be useful to growing biofuel crops on marginal land.


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