Compared to the conventional sintering method which is time-and-energy consuming, some researchers have shown the possibility of using microwave for rapid sintering. Microwave heating is a self-heating process, which is accomplished by absorbing electromagnetic energy by a dielectric material. Higher heating rate and efficiency can be obtained by using microwave volumetric heating. At room temperature, most of the ceramics have low dielectric loss factor so that it is impossible to raise the temperature. Susceptors made by special material with large dielectric loss coefficient are needed as a pre-heater to raise temperature to the critical value beyond which the material to be sintered can be self-heated. In microwave sintering process, the material volumetric heating mechanism makes the sintering process rapid and selective. Langfeng successfully used microwave energy to achieve the sintering of stabilized zinconia in a 2.45-GHz multimode microwave furnace with selective susceptors. The sintering temperature of zinconia was reduced by 100-150oC comparing to the conventional thermal sintering, and a finer grain size was obtained. In a review of this technique, We summarized the fundamentals, benefits, and major research issues of microwave processing of materials.
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