Spark Plasma Sintering

In: Science

Submitted By freakonomic
Words 2659
Pages 11
Spark Plasma Sintering

I. Abstract

This paper investigates the principles, theory, advantages, and applications of spark plasma sintering (SPS), a newly developed sintering method that uses high temperature plasma generated between the particles of a powdered material by electrical discharge. This discharge results from energizing the sample by a momentary pulse of large electric current. One can summarize the sequential effects of this electrical pulse in five key steps: (1) spark plasma is generated (2) the sample is “plasma heated” (3) the sample is “joule heated”, (4) the particles fuse into a compact, solid object by electrical field diffusion, and (5) the material undergoes plastic deformation to further densify the powder. In many cases, this method of sintering produces objects with superior mechanical properties to conventionally sintered objects. Furthermore, it produces highly dense objects in a shorter time period and at a lower temperature. With spark plasma sintering, ceramics can be sintered in minutes, as compared to hours and days using conventional processes. This emerging technology presents the opportunity to manufacture materials more cost-effectively.

II. Introduction

Within the umbrella of materials science and engineering lies the processing of various classes of materials, including metal alloys, composites, polymers, and ceramics. According to the Ceramic Tile Institute of America, a ceramic is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid processed via the action of heat and subsequent cooling.3 Among the wide variety of these inorganic, nonmetallic materials used in commercially viable applications, a common characteristic is high melting point, due to the nature of these materials themselves---they are usually bonded covalently, and thus their melting points are extremely high since melting point of a material is…...

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