Researchers find a new method to enhance ductility of ceramic materials

Latest research efforts taken by a team of researchers of Purdue University are working on developing a new process to make ceramics mechanically strong. The study focuses on minimizing the brittle nature of the ceramics in order to make it durable and ductile.

This process is known as “flash sintering”. It is a method which adds an electric field to the traditional process of sintering and is used to form bulk components from ceramics.

“We have been able to show that even at room temperatures, ceramics sintered with the electric field surprisingly deform plastically before fracture when compressed at high strain,” commented Haiyan Wang, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering.

The team elaborated on the method of application of an electric field in order to form ceramics which reshapes the material as easily as the metal at room temperature.  According to reports, during the study, the team applied the technique especially to titanium dioxide which is a commonly used white pigment.

It was observed that the enhanced room temperature ductility in titanium dioxide caused unusual high-density defects like stacking faults, dislocations and twins which are formed during the flash sintering process.

Experts suggest, it is due to the enhanced plasticity that the ceramics became more mechanically durable for operations at low temperatures.

“These ductile ceramics find many technologically important applications,” explained Xinghang Zhang, professor of materials engineering and co-principle investigator on the research team. “It can be applied to defense operations, automobile manufacturing, nuclear reactor components and sustainable energy devices.”