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Oct 4, 2023

YCN Newsletter 18 - Research in Spot "Exploring alternative sintering techniques for a more sustainable production of lead-free electroceramics" by Camila Ribeiro

My name is Camila Ribeiro, and I'm a PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Aveiro in Portugal.

I entered the world of ceramics while pursuing my undergraduate degree in Materials Engineering at the Federal University of São Paulo (Brazil). Therefore, when I started my PhD, I decided to continue on the same topic, exploring several alternative sintering techniques for a more sustainable production of lead-free electroceramics, specifically, barium strontium titanate (BST) ceramics.

BST ceramics have unique dielectric properties suitable for specific applications, mainly within the telecommunications sector. Given the modernity of this sector, significant attention has been directed towards the production of this material. At the same time, the current need for energy-efficient technologies to meet decarbonization targets, in contrast to the high energy expenditure of conventional sintering at high temperatures, has driven the development of alternative sintering techniques with different densification strategies involving the application of pressure, fields, and electrical current, among others. Within this context, the focus of my work is to investigate the production of BST at lower temperatures using Flash Sintering, Cold Sintering Process and Spark Plasma Sintering while aiming to establish the relationship between processing and material properties.

Working with a dielectric material of complex composition produced through technologies with several parameters to optimize - some of which can be difficult to control, such as the current in Flash Sintering, or challenging to understand, such as the solvent in Cold Sintering - has been a significant challenge in my research. However, up to this point, using these alternative techniques, BST ceramics were already produced at lower temperatures with properties similar to, and sometimes even better than, conventionally sintered BST ceramics.

Moreover, it is known that the development of the microstructure is mainly governed by the sintering process. By controlling it, it is possible to optimize the electrical properties of ceramics. Having said that, a crucial aspect of my project is the investigation of microstructural development, dictated by the processing method, which has, in fact, a huge influence on the size, shape, and distribution of the grains and, consequently, on the final properties of BST. This work so far provides new practical understanding of the sintering of electroceramics and reveals the potential of alternative densification strategies. However, one of the biggest ongoing objectives is to investigate the sintering science behind all these outcomes, aiming to achieve a real understanding.

I belong to the electroceramics group, and we are always looking for collaborations. So, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if anything interests you.

     

Camila Ribeiro

Electroceramics Group - Department of Materials and Ceramic Engineering

CICECO – Aveiro Institute of Materials

University of Aveiro – Portugal

camila@ua.pt 

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