The European Ceramic Society


Oct 13, 2022

YCN Newsletter 14 : Article by Isabela Reis Lavagnini

Conventional sintering is a slow process that involves heating a ceramic body from the outside to the inside using extremely high furnace temperatures.

During this process, a considerable amount of energy is wasted due to low-efficiency heating. However, the conventional sintering method is still widely used in the majority of ceramic industries today, being the stage in ceramic manufacturing that uses the most energy. Optimizing sintering is an opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the ceramic industries and also lower the costs and prices of the final products. In this way, an effort is being focused on creating more efficient ways to sinter materials. That is why I am working with a non-conventional sintering technique called Flash Sintering (FS), a new technique proposed in 2010. In essence, FS uses Joule heating to heat the sample from the inside, densifying ceramic materials in a matter of seconds. In a typical FS experiment, a ceramic body is directly exposed to an electric field while also being heated in a furnace. At a critical temperature (substantially lower than the sintering temperature), if the applied electric field is high enough, the electric current flowing through the sample will suddenly increase (triggered by thermal runaway). At this stage, which is frequently referred to as the "flash event", the sample releases light and rapidly shrinks, densifying in a matter of seconds.

As this technique is relatively new, several researchers are studying its application in different materials. It has been discovered that each material presents different behaviors during the flash event, as well as different final properties when compared to those obtained by conventional sintering. Therefore, the main goal of my study was to evaluate the potential of FS in the production of composite materials based on zirconia and hydroxyapatite.

My choice for this material relays on the fact that hydroxyapatite zirconia-based composites are of great commercial interest in the biomaterials industry. Biomaterials produced by this composite have potential in bone tissue replacements, as it allows the combination of two important properties: bioactivity (from hydroxyapatite) with high mechanical strength (from zirconia). However, these composites are difficult to sinter because each material presents different shrinkage rates, which could result in microcracks that will affect the final product. That is why I decided to test FS as a possible production route for this composite as the almost instantaneous shrinkage promoted by FS could prevent the formation of microcracks.

Currently, I am still carrying out several FS experiments on the hydroxyapatite zirconia-based composites, but the preliminary study was enough to show that the results obtained were unique: a dandelion-shaped crystalline structure was observed for the first time in flash-sintered specimens. This crystal structure exhibits special surface characteristics and has a high surface area. Thus, this morphology may open a new window for potential applications to this material.


Isabela Reis Lavagnini ( )

Department of Biosystem Engineering, Faculty of Animal Science and Food Engineering (FZEA), University of São Paulo (USP), Pirassununga, SP, Brazil.

Last news

Jun 13, 2024
Next deadline for the JECS Trust mobility Grant is 31st August 2024!

Please note that the decisions of the JECS Trust board will not be known before Mid-October 2024 and so the project submitted must not begin before mid-November 2024.

Jun 10, 2024
2024 ECerS International Ceramist Student Exchange Program – 3rd call!

In the frame of the 2024 ECerS International Student exchange program, ECerS is opening a third call, this time to allow grants to European Students to attend the 2024 Fall meeting of Korean Ceramic Society (COEX) that will be organised by the Korean Ceramic Society in Seoul, Korea, from 16th to 18th October 2024.


Contact us for any information: - We will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.


Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest news.

Our actions

ECerS coordinates and promotes the study of ceramics through the following actions :

ECerS office

Av. Gouverneur Cornez , 4

7000 Mons


Useful links