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  1. The densification and sintering of ceramics using microwaves is first reported in the mid‐1960s. Today, the reduced carbon footprint of this process has renewed interest as it uses less energy overall compared to conventional process heating/furnaces. However, scaling up and commercializing the microwave sintering process of ceramics remains a formidable challenge. As a contactless method, microwave sintering offers geometric flexibility over other field‐assisted sintering processes. Yet, the inability to address multiscale, multiphysics‐driven heterogeneities arising during microwave coupling limits discussions about a future scale‐up process. Herein, the case is made that unlike 60 years ago, new advances in multiscale computational modeling, materials characterization, control systems, and software open up new avenues for addressing these challenges. More importantly, the rise of additive manufacturing techniques demands the innovation of sintering processes in the ceramics community for realizing near‐net‐shaped and complex parts for applications ranging from medical implants to automotive and aerospace parts.

     
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  2. Abstract

    This study binder jets a tungsten carbide‐nickel (WC‐Ni) sintered‐agglomerated composite powder, and postprocesses the preforms using an initial sintering step followed by a hot isostatic pressing (HIP) step. The effects of sintering temperatures, sintering durations, and HIP temperatures on notable properties (e.g., porosity, microstructure, hardness, and oxidation behavior) are quantified. The highest average relative density produced in this study was 96.8%, and volumetric shrinkage of these coupons was about 64%. Microstructural characterization shows that the WC grains are homogenously distributed throughout the nickel matrix and grow to an average diameter of 1.6  (a 60% increase) during processing. X‐ray diffraction patterns indicate that no unwanted products were formed. Processed coupons achieved a maximum hardness of 54 Rockwell C, limited by their internal porosity. Oxidation tests result in the production of WO3and NiWO4at temperatures above 600°C. Methodologies and results from this study can be leveraged to additively manufacture highly dense, geometrically complex WC‐Ni parts with small carbide grains, low nickel content, desirable microstructure, and suitable functional properties.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Real‐time onboard state monitoring and estimation of a battery over its lifetime is indispensable for the safe and durable operation of battery‐powered devices. In this study, a methodology to predict the entire constant‐current cycling curve with limited input information that can be collected in a short period of time is developed. A total of 10 066 charge curves of LiNiO2‐based batteries at a constant C‐rate are collected. With the combination of a feature extraction step and a multiple linear regression step, the method can accurately predict an entire battery charge curve with an error of < 2% using only 10% of the charge curve as the input information. The method is further validated across other battery chemistries (LiCoO2‐based) using open‐access datasets. The prediction error of the charge curves for the LiCoO2‐based battery is around 2% with only 5% of the charge curve as the input information, indicating the generalization of the developed methodology for predicting battery cycling curves. The developed method paves the way for fast onboard health status monitoring and estimation for batteries during practical applications.

     
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  7. Abstract

    Although ceramic particle‐metal matrix materials (i.e., cermets) can offer superior performance, manufacturing these materials via conventional means is difficult compared to the manufacturing of metal alloys. This study leverages the laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process to additively manufacture dense tungsten carbide (WC)‐17 wt.% nickel (Ni) composite specimens using novel spherical, sintered‐agglomerated composite powder. A range of processing parameters yielding high‐density specimens was discovered using a sequential series of experiments comprised of single bead, multi‐layer, and cylindrical builds. Cylinders with a relative density >99% were fabricated and characterized in terms of microstructure, chemical composition, and hardness. Scanning electron microscopy images show favorable wetting between the Ni binder and carbide particles without any phase segregation and laser processing increased the average carbide particle size. Energy dispersive X‐ray and X‐ray diffraction analyses detected traces of secondary products after laser processing. For samples processed at high energy densities, complex carbides and carbon agglomerate phases were detected. The maximum hardness of 60.38 Rockwell C is achieved in the printed samples. The successful builds in this study open the way for LPBF of dense WC‐Ni parts with a large workable laser power‐laser velocity processing window.

     
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  9. Microwave radiation (MWR), a type of electromagnetic excitation source, reduces the synthesis temperature and processing time for chemical reactions compared to traditional synthesis methods. Recently, we demonstrated that MWR can engineer ceramics with different crystal phases compared to traditional methods [Journal of Materials Chemistry A 5, 35 (2017)]. In this study, we further apply the MWR-assisted technique to improve the electrochemical performance of LiCoO2 cathodes by engineering TiO2 and ZrO2 ceramic coatings. Electrochemical tests suggest that the TiO2 coating improves the rate capability of the LiCoO2 electrode. Both TiO2 and ZrO2 coatings improve the high-voltage (4.5 V) cycling stability of LiCoO2. The capacity remaining is improved from 52.8 to 84.4% and 81.9% by the TiO2 coating and the ZrO2 coating, respectively, after 40 cycles. We compare these results with existing studies that apply traditional methods to engineer TiO2/ZrO2 on LiCoO2, and find that the MWR-assisted method shows better performance improvement. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements suggest that the improved cycling stability arises from the formation of metal fluorides that protect the electrode from side reactions with electrolytes. This mechanism is further supported by the reduced Co dissolution from TiO2/ZrO2-coated LiCoO2 electrode after cycling. This study provides a new toolbox facilitating the integration of many delicate, low melting point materials like polymers into battery electrodes. 
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