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Title: Evidence for the microwave effect during hybrid sintering and annealing of ceramics
Authors: Wang, Jianxin
Keywords: Ceramic processing
The microwave effect
Hybrid heating
Grain growth
Zinc oxide
Yttria stabilised zirconia
Issue Date: 2005
Publisher: © J. Wang
Abstract: Enhanced mass transport during the high temperature processing of ceramics by microwave heating, generally known as the 'microwave effect', has been observed by many researchers and some hypotheses have been proposed to explain it. However it is still a controversial issue, centring on temperature measurement accuracy. The primary goal for the present work was to achieve definitive evidence of the microwave effect via the microwave hybrid processing of ceramics using accurate temperature measurement. Three temperature measurement techniques, viz. thermocouple, pyrometer and optical fibre thermometer, have been investigated to determine their accuracy during the hybrid microwave heating of ceramic materials. The experimental results, obtained from melting point measurement on vanadium pentoxide and the heating of three other materials with different loss factors and thermal conductivities, showed that the optical fibre thermometer was the best choice. An accuracy of ±2oC was obtained, provided the probe had been calibrated and was protected from stray radiation from conventional heating elements. Direct evidence for the microwave effect was sought from experiments involving the sintering and annealing of ceramics at different microwave power levels but using an identical temperature I time profile in each case. Sample temperature was monitored using optical fibre thermometry and sample size, composition and precursor powder size were all varied. Specifically, four main ceramics with different loss factors were investigated, viz. zinc oxide (very lossy), yttria stabilised zirconia (intermediate loss) and alumina and silica (low loss). The results from the experiments showed that an increase in final density was observed for the samples that saw the highest microwave power level compared to I those sintered using pure conventional heating, nearly 25% in the largest case for zinc oxide with the highest loss factor among the four investigated materials. This was equivalent to an effective temperature increase of approximately 1OOoC. For the low loss alumina samples, the increase was extremely small, with the yttria stabilised zirconia intermediate between the two. In addition, during annealing of fully dense ZnO ceramic pellets, enhanced grain growth was observed during hybrid heating compared to pure conventional heating. Temperature gradients within the samples, a major potential cause of the effect, were assessed using two different approaches and found to be <lOoC, far too small to explain the results. Hence it is believed that definitive evidence for the 'microwave effect' has been found during the microwave processing of ceramics.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/2209
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Materials)

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