Investigation of the microwave effect
2014-11-20T09:08:33Z (GMT) by
Over the past decades, microwave sintering has been investigated, and the effects of microwave sintering have been demonstrated, however there is still uncertainty as to what is causing the enhancements known as the microwave effect . For a better understanding of the microwave effect , the effect of microwaves on the pore size distribution during densification has been investigated for submicron-sized zinc oxide (ZnO), which was sintered with conventional heating and varying amounts of microwave power but always maintaining exactly the same time-temperature profile. Initially, the density of the sintered samples was measured and compared; this proved that the densification of the hybrid sintered samples was increased and that the higher the level of microwaves used, the more it enhanced the densification. After this, the porosity was investigated through the use of nitrogen adsorption analysis, mercury porosimetry and Field Emission Gun Scanning Electron Microscopy (FEGSEM). Initially, it was found that sintering with microwaves reduces pores faster than for conventional sintering as expected. However, the experiments also revealed that the mechanisms of the reduction in the porosity were not different for microwave sintering compared to conventional sintering. When the porosity was compared at equivalent densities, it was observed that there was no significant difference, either in terms of the amount of porosity or the microstructure development. Since the structural development was the same for both conventional and hybrid sintering, it was concluded that the cause for the enhancement of the densification was enhanced diffusion caused by an additional driving force induced by the microwave field. The investigation of the solid-state reaction between zinc oxide and alumina was designed to investigate whether the diffusion associated with reactions was also enhanced by the use of microwaves. Therefore, zinc oxide and alumina samples were reacted as diffusion couples using conventional and hybrid heating, the latter with varying amounts of microwave power. The analyses of the reaction layer using FEGSEM showed an increase in the reaction product layer thickness when hybrid heating was used, with a higher level of microwaves yielding more growth. These results supported the view that the enhanced reaction rates were caused by enhanced diffusion, again caused by an additional driving force induced by the microwave field. For both the densification and reaction cases, the most likely additional driving force is considered to be the ponderomotive effect.