Flash Sintering Activated by Bulk Phase and Grain Boundary Complexion Transformations
31 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2019 First Look: Accepted
A naturally-occurring coupled thermal and electric runaway, resulted from an Arrhenius temperature-dependent specimen conductivity, can trigger flash sintering in many ceramics. This study reveals another possibility to activate flash sintering: a bulk phase transformation and/or a grain boundary (phase-like) complexion transition can cause an abrupt rise in the specimen conductivity to jump start flash sintering (prior to the occurrence of a natural thermal runaway). In undoped and Al2O3-doped ZnO, the flash sintering is activated by natural thermal runways that can be quantitively predicted from an Arrhenius extrapolation of low-temperature specimen conductivity. In contrast, a bulk eutectic reaction and the associated formation of premelting-like intergranular films (IGFs) in Bi2O3-doped ZnO can lead to a nonlinear rise in the specimen conductivity (above the Arrhenius extrapolation) to trigger flash sintering prior to the occurrence of the predicted natural thermal runaway. Consistent with and further supporting the proposed theory, a natural thermal runaway can still take place in Bi2O3-doped ZnO before the occurrence of the interfacial and bulk transformation if the initial electric field is increased to a sufficiently high level (800 V/cm in this case). This work uncovers the roles of the bulk phase and interfacial (phase-like) complexion transformations in initiating flash sintering, thereby suggesting a new direction to understand and tailor the flash sintering process. A new observation of ultra-fast field-induced migration of aliovalent cations during the flash sintering of Al2O3-doped ZnO is also reported.
Keywords: Flash Sintering Activated by Bulk Phase and Grain Boundary Complexion Transformations
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