The entirely accidental observation of increased sintering performance of nickel-infiltrated yttria-stabilized zirconia (8YSZ) in a molybdenum and oxygen rich atmosphere was explored. Molybdenum and nickel were found to be synergistic sintering aids for 8YSZ. However, sintering had to take place in an atmosphere of flowing oxygen. Samples sintered in air consistently burst. The sintering performance, microstructure, and crystal structure of 8YSZ with additions of both Mo and Ni together are compared to the sintering performance, microstructure, and crystal structure of pure 8YSZ, 8YSZ with only Ni added as a sintering aid, and 8YSZ with only Mo added as a sintering aid. Enhanced densification and grain growth is observed in the Mo–Ni 8YSZ samples when compared to all other sintering samples. Order of magnitude sintering rate increases are observed in the Mo–Ni 8YSZ over that of pure 8YSZ. With a maximum sintering temperature of 1200 °C and a one-hour dwell, sintered densities of 85% theoretical density (5.02 g⁄cm3
) are achieved with the Mo–Ni samples: a 57% increase in density over pure 8YSZ sintered with the same sintering profile. EIS results suggest conductivity may not be negatively impacted by the use of these two sintering aids at temperatures above 750 °C. Finally, the spontaneous generation of nickel-molybdenum nano-rods was observed on the 5, and 10 mol.% Mo–Ni infiltrated 8YSZ samples after being left under vacuum in a scanning electron microscope chamber, suggesting evaporation of a possible nickel–molybdenum compound from the sample fracture surfaces.
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