High-pressure techniques have been used extensively in effecting phase changes in materials science for decades. The use of high-pressure high temperature enables changes in material atomic arrangement or structure which in turn brings about changes in functional properties such as magnetism, optical, electrical and thermal conductivity. High-pressure technology is highly specialised and requires understanding to fully utilise its potential as a tool for the development of new and novel functional materials with improved properties. This chapter explores the various high-pressure technologies available and how they have been utilised to obtain a wide range of functional ceramic materials for a wide range of applications.
Part of the book: Sintering of Functional Materials
The majority of functional materials today are based on ceramic materials which find use in a wide range of applications that include magnetic, electronic, optical, thermoelectric (TE) and piezoelectric energy. The properties and reliability of functional ceramic materials are highly depended on the density, grain size and existence of heterogeneities in the microstructure. It is a well-known fact that there is property enhancement at finer grain sizes for most functional materials through a multitude of mechanisms depending on the application. However, what remains a challenge is the success in maintaining fine-grained microstructures using conventional sintering methods. The use of such methods results in uncontrollable grain growth and coarse microstructures which negate the benefits of fine-grained related properties. The use of spark plasma sintering (SPS) technique offers an opportunity to produce fine-grained microstructures with minimum grain growth. However, grain refinement is not always guaranteed during SPS sintering especially under high-temperature sintering conditions. Therefore, sintering conditions that allow densification with minimal grain growth are well suited for microstructural refinement. A modified two-step sintering (TSS) methodology in SPS has proven to yield promising results and has potential use in the production of functional ceramic materials with controlled microstructures.
Part of the book: Design and Manufacturing