Research: Process Improves Ceramic Durability
Researchers based out of Purdue University recently developed a new method to make ceramics more durable: a process known as flash sintering, which adds an electrical field to the traditional sintering process that is often used to create bulk components.
According to the university, ceramics can be found in thermal barrier coatings on engine blades and auto parts, among other elements. Though ceramic is mechanically strong, if the material is strained under a load, it can fracture. High temperatures are required to keep the material functional.
The research, published in Science Advances, indicates that the addition of an electric field in forming of ceramics can help the material be as almost as reshapeable as metal at room temperature. During research, the team applied this method to titanium dioxide, a common white pigment.
“We have been able to show that even at room temperatures, ceramics sintered with the electric field surprisingly deform plastically before fracture when compressed at high strain,” said Haiyan Wang, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering at Purdue’s College of Engineering.
Research team member Jin Li, a postdoctoral fellow, noted that nanotwins had been introduced in a number of metallic materials in order to improve ductility.
“However, there are little prior studies that show nanotwins and stacking faults can significantly improve the plasticity of ceramics,” said Li.
The enhanced room temperature ductility that the titanium dioxide exhibited was attributed to the high-density defects, such as stacking faults, twins and dislocations, which occurred thanks to the flash sintering process.
“Our results are important because they open the door for using many different ceramics in new ways that can provide more flexibility and durability to sustain heavy loads and high temperatures without catastrophic brittle failure,” added Li.
Currently, the team is working in collaboration with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the work. The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research in collaboration with the University of California, Davis, Rutgers University and Naval Research Laboratory.