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Transient liquid phase sintering of high-purity mullite for high-temperature structural ceramics
Authors:Takeshi Kumazawa  Hisao Suzuki
Abstract:High-purity mullite ceramics, promising engineering ceramics for high-temperature applications, were fabricated using transient liquid phase sintering to improve their high-temperature mechanical properties. Small amounts of ultrafine alumina or silica powders were uniformly mixed with the mullite precursor depending on the silica-alumina ratio of the resulting ceramics to allow for the formation of a transient liquid phase during sintering, thus, enhancing densification at the early stage of sintering and mullite formation by the reaction between additional alumina and the residual glassy phase (mullitization) at the final stage of sintering. The addition of alumina powder to the silica-rich mullite precursor resulted in a reaction between the glassy silica and alumina phases during sintering, thereby forming a mullite phase without inhibiting densification. The addition of fine silica powder to the mullite single-phase precursor led to densification with an abnormal grain growth of mullite, whereas some of the added silica remained as a glassy phase after sintering. The resulting mullite ceramics prepared using different powder compositions showed different sintering behaviors, depending on the amount of alumina added. Upon selecting an optimum process and the amount of alumina to be added, the pure mullite ceramics obtained via transient liquid phase sintering exhibited high density (approximately 99%) and excellent high-temperature flexural strength (approximately 320 MPa) at 1500 °C in air. These results clearly demonstrate that pure mullite ceramics fabricated via transient liquid phase sintering with compositions close to those of stoichiometric mullite could be a promising process for the fabrication of high-temperature structural ceramics used in an ambient atmosphere. The transient liquid phase sintering process proposed in this study could be a powerful processing tool that allows for the preparation of superior high-temperature structural ceramics used in the ambient processing atmosphere.
Keywords:Mullite (D)  Transient liquid phase  Sintering (A)  Strength (C)
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