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Journal of the American Ceramic Society








Sintering and accompanying microstructural evolution is inarguably the most important step in the processing of ceramics and hard metals. In this process, an ensemble of particles is converted into a coherent object of controlled density and microstructure at an elevated temperature (but below the melting point) due to the thermodynamic tendency of the particle system to decrease its total surface and interfacial energy. Building on a long development history as a major technological process, sintering remains among the most viable methods of fabricating novel ceramics, including high surface area structures, nanopowder-based systems, and tailored structural and functional materials. Developing new and perfecting existing sintering techniques is crucial to meet ever-growing demand for a broad range of technologically significant systems including, for example, fuel and solar cell components, electronic packages and elements for computers and wireless devices, ceramic and metal-based bioimplants, thermoelectric materials, materials for thermal management, and materials for extreme environments. In this study, the current state of the science and technology of sintering is presented. This study is, however, not a comprehensive review of this extremely broad field. Furthermore, it only focuses on the sintering of ceramics. The fundamentals of sintering, including the thermodynamics and kinetics for solid-state- and liquid-phase-sintered systems are described. This study summarizes that the sintering of amorphous ceramics (glasses) is well understood and there is excellent agreement between theory and experiments. For crystalline materials, attention is drawn to the effect of the grain boundary and interface structure on sintering and microstructural evolution, areas that are expected to be significant for future studies. Considerable emphasis is placed on the topics of current research, including the sintering of composites, multilayered systems, microstructure-based models, multiscale models, sintering under external stresses, and innovative and novel sintering approaches, such as field-assisted sintering. This study includes the status of these subfields, the outstanding challenges and opportunities, and the outlook of progress in sintering research. Throughout the manuscript, we highlight the important lessons learned from sintering fundamentals and their implementation in practice.


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© 2017 The Authors. Journal of the American Ceramic Society published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Ceramic Society (ACERS)