Spark Plasma Sintering Apparatus Used for the Formation of Strontium Titanate Bicrystals

Lauren A Hughes, Klaus van Benthem

J Vis Exp. 2017 Feb 9;(120):55223.

PMID: 28287535


A spark plasma sintering apparatus was used as a novel method for diffusion bonding of two single crystals of strontium titanate to form bicrystals with one twist grain boundary. This apparatus utilizes high uniaxial pressure and a pulsed direct current for rapid consolidation of material. Diffusion bonding of strontium titanate bicrystals without fracture, in a spark plasma sintering apparatus, is possible at high pressures due to the unusual temperature dependent plasticity behavior of strontium titanate. We demonstrate a method for the successful formation of bicrystals at accelerated time scales and lower temperatures in a spark plasma sintering apparatus compared to bicrystals formed by conventional diffusion bonding parameters. Bond quality was verified by scanning electron microscopy. A clean and atomically abrupt interface containing no secondary phases was observed using transmission electron microscopy techniques. Local changes in bonding across the boundary was characterized by simultaneous scanning transmission electron microscopy and spatially resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy.

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