An experimental and numerical study of particle size distribution effects on the sintering of porous ceramics

Ken Darcovich, Floyd Toll, Pierre Hontanx, Virginie Roux, Kazunari Shinagawa

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13 Citations (Scopus)


A single-step processing method has been established to prepare asymmetric porous alumina microstructures by a controlled sedimentation technique. Fine powder from an aqueous suspension is consolidated over a casting slab. Metastable surface chemical control of the suspension properties was able to induce a highly porous flat disc structure with a continuously increasing mean pore size from top to bottom. Formation of this gradient structure was facilitated by using a powder with a very broad particle size distribution. These structures can be used as either ultrafiltration media or as substrates for inorganic membrane making. Sintering can readily introduce defects into functionally gradient ceramics. Despite these problems, the asymmetric structures considered in this paper can be readily sintered without warpage or cracking. In this regard, a finite element method numerical simulation had been developed to model the sintering characteristics of functionally gradient ceramic structures. The key for being able to predict a non-warped structure was the incorporation into the model of the powder particle size distribution as a field variable. Across the vertical section of the structure, the distributions were broad and overlapping, all with a significant fines tail. These characteristics accelerate and homogenize local sintering rates, such that the net result is a non-warped fused structure. This paper presents recent advances with the simulation, where sample geometry, porosity and particle size distribution evolutions were traced alongside measurements made on physical specimens. In general the model corresponded well with the experimental observations. The correct accounting of observed trends lends confidence to the underlying sintering mechanisms incorporated into the model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalMaterials Science & Engineering A: Structural Materials: Properties, Microstructure and Processing
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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