Economy, Sci & Tech

A Step Forward in Material Science

A Step Forward in Material ScienceA Step Forward in Material Science

An Iranian science-based company, PKF Vacuum Technology, has developed a spark plasma sintering machine.

Mehdi Hashemi, CEO of PKF, said despite sanctions and lack of modern laboratory equipment, Iranian scientists and academics in theoretical fields have kept pace with their foreign counterparts in material science.

"The mission of PKF is designing and manufacturing these equipment and enabling Iranian researchers to proceed further in their scientific endeavors," he said.

Hashemi said heat generation is internal in this system, in contrast to the conventional hot pressing, where the heat is provided by external heating elements.

"This facilitates a very high heating or cooling rate, hence the sintering process generally is very fast. The process of heating is called Joule heating. It is the process by which the passage of an electric current through a conductor releases heat," he said.

"The process results in achieving near theoretical density at lower sintering temperature compared to conventional sintering techniques."

The general speed of the process ensures it has the potential of coating powders with a nanostructure while avoiding coarsening that accompanies standard densification routes. SPS plays an important role in material science, the interdisciplinary field that involves the discovery and design of new materials with an emphasis on solids. Some of the applications of material science are in the fields of metallurgy, nanomaterials, biomaterials, ceramics, metalworking and welding.

A familiar example of sintering, which can be observed in daily life, is when ice cubes in a glass of water adhere to each other, which is driven by the difference of temperature between water and ice.

Examples of pressure-driven sintering are the compacting of snowfall to a glacier, or the forming of a hard snowball by pressing loose snow together. The company also announced the machine is commercially available to both local and international companies.