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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Making ceramics in a flash

by Mitch Jacoby
May 13, 2020


Several intricate shapes in transparent material, left, and opaque black material, right.
Credit: (Science 2020, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7681)

Ceramics are common materials used in electronics and other applications. But the conventional process, mixing solid starting materials and sticking them in a high-temperature furnace for several hours, is really slow. It also can cause desired volatile components to diffuse out of the mixture.

Chengwei Wang and Liangbing Hu of the University of Maryland and colleagues have new method that avoids those problems. They compress pellets of mixed precursor powders, insert the pellets between carbon strips, and heat them electrically to 3,000 °C in less than 30 s and hold the temperature there for about 10 s.

The method also works with intricately shaped precursors, like the light colored ones shown here (left) that were 3-D printed and converted to ceramics (black) in seconds. The honeycomb-shaped object (bottom) works as a magnetic field sensor because the aluminum and cobalt that was doped into specific layers of the precursor stayed put during the ultrafast heat treatment.

(Science 2020, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7681)

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