SDSU ME Department researchers have developed a new ultra-rapid process of “Flash Spark Plasma Sintering”. The idea of flash spark plasma sintering (or flash hot pressing – FHP) stems from the conducted theoretical analysis of the role of thermal runaway phenomena for material processing by flash sintering. The effectiveness of the developed FHP technique was demonstrated by the few seconds–long consolidation of SiC powder in an industrial spark plasma sintering device. Specially designed sacrificial dies heat the pre-compacted SiC powder specimens to a critical temperature before applying any voltage to the powder volume and allowing the electrode-punches of the SPS device setup to contact the specimens and pass electric current through them under elevated temperatures. The experimental results demonstrated that flash sintering phenomena can be realized using conventional SPS devices. Using this process it was possible to consolidate silicon carbide powder up to full density in few seconds. The results of this research have been published in Nature Scientific Reports.
This breakthrough research has been recently featured in Ceramic Tech Today. You can find the article at: http://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/flash-spark-plasma-sintering-harnessing-thermal-runaway-to-densify-silicon-carbide-in-seconds.
The on-going support of this work by US Department of Energy, Materials Sciences Division, under Award No. DE-SC0008581 [grant of $1,007,000); by US ARDEC, under Contract W15QKN-14-C-0068 [grant of $307,000]; and by General Atomics under Contract 4500051773 (grant of $95,000] are gratefully acknowledged. In addition, the present sintering-related studies by SDSU Powder Technology Laboratory supervised by Prof. Olevsky are supported also by NSF DMREF grant CMMI-1234114 [grant of $600,000]; by Office of Naval Research, Contract # N00014-14-C-0233 [grant of $338,000]; and by NASA grant NNX16AK21G [grant of $825,000].