The sintering behavior of ultrafine alumina particles

John E. Bonevich, Laurence D. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Ultrafine particles (UFPs) of aluminum oxide were prepared by an arc discharge, sintered in a custom-built ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) furnace system, and characterized in a high resolution electron microscope (HREM) operating under UHV conditions. The UFPs produced range in size from 20 to 50 nm and have highly faceted surfaces. The atomic structure of the UFPs corresponds to the cubic (γ) and orthorhombic (δ) variants of the spinel structure. Sintering in these UFPs demonstrates three major issues. Surface faceting plays a major role in determining the final sintering geometry with sintering occurring predominantly on the close-packed {111} facets. Surface diffusion is the predominant mechanism for sintering, as evidenced by the fact that many sintered particles have their initial adhesion structure ‘locked-in’ during sintering with no reorientation occurring. Furthermore, the necks formed during sintering have well-defined, atomically sharp contact angles which suggests that the neck growth process is controlled by the faceted structures and may be modeled by a mechanism similar to crystal growth due to ledges, grain boundaries, and twins. The driving force for sintering can be considered as a chemical potential difference between facet surfaces and the neck region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1489-1500
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Materials Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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