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The M3 Lab received NSF (DMR) award entitled "A Mechanism of Flash Sintering of Ionic Ceramics&

Traditional densification of ceramics powders into a functional component usually takes at least several hours. In 2010, a group of scientists discovered that nearly instantaneous full densification can occur (within five seconds) for certain ceramics when a high-level voltage or current pass through a compact of these ceramic powders. Thus, this rapid densification technique was named flash sintering. Since then, flash sintering has become one of the most promising techniques for ceramics processing. However, the mechanisms for this rapid sintering process are unclear; this project attempts to reveal the underlying reasons. The experimental work in this study is complemented by computational modeling, enabling a more comprehensive understanding on the rapid densification mechanisms of flash sintering of ceramic powders. This new knowledge then serves as fundamental guidance to extend the flash sintering technique into a wider range of ceramic materials. Graduate and undergraduate students (including minority and other underrepresented students) are being trained in mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering for careers in academia or high-technology manufacturing. Virtual reality technology is used to provide an immersive and interactive teaching and learning environment for materials sciences topics, and helps to educate a workforce capable of using adaptive new technologies in a rapidly changing society.