Fusion TEM holder tip
Image courtesy of Phys. Rev. Lett.

Abstract

Electric field-assisted sintering techniques demonstrate accelerated densification at lower temperatures than the conventional sintering methods. However, it is still debated whether the applied field and/or resulting currents are responsible for the densification enhancement. To distinguish the effects of an applied field from current flow, in situ scanning transmission electron microscopy experiments with soft agglomerates of partially stabilized yttria-doped zirconia particles are carried out. A new microelectromechanical system-based sample support is used to heat particle agglomerates while simultaneously exposing them to an externally applied noncontacting electric field. Under isothermal condition at 900 °C, an electric field strength of 500 V/cm shows a sudden threefold enhancement in the shrinkage of the agglomerates. The applied electrostatic potential lowers the activation energy for point defect formation within the space charge zone and therefore promotes consolidation. Obtaining similar magnitudes of shrinkage in the absence of any electric field requires a higher temperature and longer time.

Impact Statement

Authors investigated electric field–assisted sintering techniques to demonstrate accelerated densification of partially stabilized ZrO2 at lower temperatures than the conventional sintering methods. It is shown that under isothermal condition at 900 °C, an electric field strength of 500 V/cm shows a sudden threefold enhancement in the shrinkage of the agglomerates. It was concluded that the applied electrostatic potential lowers the activation energy for point defect formation within the space charge zone and therefore promotes consolidation.