Scandium is being explored as an alloying element for aluminum alloys, which are gaining importance as high-performance lightweight structural alloys in the transportation industry. A few years ago, Sc was also found to be suitable for use in electrical devices. High-Sc-content ScAlN thin films have attracted significant attention because of their strong piezoelectricity. The piezoelectric response of ScAlN suggests that ScAlN thin films formed on a hard substrate would be suitable surface acoustic wave wideband filters for next-generation wireless communication systems. However, it is often difficult to use ScAlN thin films in MEMS devices—including acoustic ones—because of the extremely high price of metallic Sc, given the difficulty associated with smelting it. Here, we propose a novel process for smelting Sc metal by microwave irradiation. Sc metal was able to be obtained successfully from ScF3
through a microwave-irradiation-based carbon reduction reaction. The reaction temperature for this reduction process was approximately 880°C, which is half of that for the conventional smelting process involving reduction with Ca. Thus, the proposed microwave irradiation process has significant potential for use in the smelting of Sc metal.
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