Cold sintering is an emerging technology that enables processing of ceramics and composite materials at temperatures around 100 degrees Celsius, compared to traditional processes typically requiring longer times at kiln temperatures around 1000 degrees. This inherent energy reduction in processing enables unprecedented integration of materials to create new composites. The integration of organic and inorganic materials also provides a unique opportunity for the reuse of composites, thereby enhancing sustainability through both waste reduction and energy savings. The U.S. has established research leadership in cold sintering over the past decade. The project stands to extend this leadership into the manufacturing realm by validating a pilot-scale process for materials used in electrical capacitors. Through a partnership with the American Ceramic Society and the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP), the team will outline educational workshops to accelerate adoption of cold sintering by industry researchers. The workshops, focused on bringing students from vocational schools to Penn State for summer experiences, could serve as a pilot model for larger efforts focused on integrating vocational schools with research-intensive universities.
The project will develop proof-of-concept demonstrations needed for translation of cold sintering to manufacturing of capacitors. Cold sintering relies on an applied uniaxial pressure and a transient solvent to reduce the sintering temperature of ceramics by approximately an order magnitude, down to about 100 degrees Celsius. This opportunity for co-sintering of polymers and ceramics creates an approach for the synthesis of re-processable composites. As such, the proposed work will drive advanced composites towards a circular economy, by demonstrating the synthesis of reformable composites, and by reducing the energy cost of re-processing. The specific goals of this project include the development of a pilot-scale process, the development of acoustic-based characterization tools, and the optimization of processing conditions to ensure uniformity of cold sintered composites used in capacitors. Foundational knowledge on process optimization will be obtained through in-situ techniques, specifically impedance spectroscopy, post-process nondestructive characterization through acoustic methods, and integrated data analytic techniques as supported by machine learning. The optimized processes will benefit a variety of applications where sintering at reduced temperatures is valuable, including energy storage, structural materials, thermal management, and electronic devices. Integration of research, education, and workforce development will be key to advancing cold-sintering research from the lab to commercial manufacturing.
This project is jointly funded by the CBET Division of the Engineering Directorate and the CHE Division of the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Directorate.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
|Effective start/end date||1/1/22 → 12/31/23|
- National Science Foundation: $500,000.00