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Materials 2013, 6(5), 1566-1583; doi:10.3390/ma6051566
Review

Comparison of Reactive and Non-Reactive Spark Plasma Sintering Routes for the Fabrication of Monolithic and Composite Ultra High Temperature Ceramics (UHTC) Materials

*  and
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica, Chimica e dei Materiali, Centro Studi sulle Reazioni Autopropaganti (CESRA), Unità di Ricerca del Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali (INSTM), Università degli Studi di Cagliari, Piazza D'Armi, Cagliari 09123, Italy
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 March 2013 / Revised: 17 April 2013 / Accepted: 18 April 2013 / Published: 29 April 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ultra-high Temperature Ceramics)
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Abstract

A wider utilization of ultra high temperature ceramics (UHTC) materials strongly depends on the availability of efficient techniques for their fabrication as dense bodies. Based on recent results reported in the literature, it is possible to state that Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) technology offers a useful contribution in this direction. Along these lines, the use of two different SPS-based processing routes for the preparation of massive UHTCs is examined in this work. One method, the so-called reactive SPS (R-SPS), consists of the synthesis and densification of the material in a single step. Alternatively, the ceramic powders are first synthesized by Self-propagating High-temperature Synthesis (SHS) and then sintered by SPS. The obtained results evidenced that R-SPS method is preferable for the preparation of dense monolithic products, while the sintering of SHS powders requires relatively milder conditions when considering binary composites. The different kinetic mechanisms involved during R-SPS of the monolithic and composite systems, i.e., combustion-like or gradual solid-diffusion, respectively, provides a possible explanation. An important role is also played by the SHS process, particularly for the preparation of composite powders, since stronger interfaces are established between the ceramic constituents formed in situ, thus favoring diffusion processes during the subsequent SPS step.
Keywords: spark plasma sintering; self-propagating high-temperature synthesis; mechanical activation; ultra high temperature ceramics; borides; carbides spark plasma sintering; self-propagating high-temperature synthesis; mechanical activation; ultra high temperature ceramics; borides; carbides
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Orrù, R.; Cao, G. Comparison of Reactive and Non-Reactive Spark Plasma Sintering Routes for the Fabrication of Monolithic and Composite Ultra High Temperature Ceramics (UHTC) Materials. Materials 2013, 6, 1566-1583.

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