In situ electron microscopy studies of electric field assisted sintering of oxide ceramics

Conference Dates

March 10-15, 2019


A wide range of studies shows a dramatic effect of applied electric fields or currents on the sintering behavior of oxide ceramic powders. However, the mechanisms accounting for the so-called flash sintering remain elusive despite the wide application potential. Using in-situ scanning and transmission electron microscopy, we aim to gain insight into the atomic origins of sintering behavior, as well as of the high conductivity states that occur in conjunction with flash events during field-assisted sintering.

We investigate the sintering dynamics of ZnO green bodies with a density between 50% and 70% and ZnO thin films with and without electric fields and under different oxidizing and reducing gas pressures. Specifically, we use a specially designed SEM heating stage to study the evolution of microstructure and morphology, including grain/void morphology, segregation, and precipitation, both with and without applied fields and with and without gas pressures up to 2 mbar. The in-situ TEM sintering studies, also under controlled electric field and gas pressure, allow us to detect chemical segregation and valence changes (using EDX and EELS) near the sintering boundaries. By gaining access to structural and chemical information down to the atomic scale, we hope to determine how the electric field causes flash sintering.

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