The cold sintering process (CSP) is a low temperature processing technique that utilizes a transient phase to synthesize dense ceramics. However, some CSP parts contain microflaws that arise due to inhomogeneities in pressure, temperature, and transient phase. This work uses 20 MHz ultrasound to verify the presence of defects in CSP ZnO samples of varying densities (84%–97%). Acoustic metrics used in this work include wave speed, which is affected by differences in the effective elastic properties of the medium, and attenuation, which quantifies wave energy loss due to scattering from defects. Wave speed maps were inhomogeneous, suggesting density gradients which were verified with scanning electron microscopy. In addition, it was demonstrated that the pores produced by cold sintering are anisometric, which increases the anisotropy in the elastic properties. High attenuation regions (>300 Np/m) are present in all samples independent of relative density and correspond to defects identified in X-ray computed tomography (XCT) which were as small as 38 µm in effective diameter. However, some high attenuation spots do not correspond to visible defects in XCT, which suggests the presence of features undetectable with XCT such as residual secondary phases at the grain boundaries.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ceramics and Composites
- Materials Chemistry