The team used calcium carbonate nanoparticles and compressed them in a process, called cold sintering, that took only an hour.
"Our work is the first evidence that a piece of ceramic material can be manufactured at room temperature in such a short amount of time and with relatively low pressures," said André Studart, Professor of Complex Materials at ETH. Ceramics are a key part of power management designs, substrates and power supply components. This could potentially open up lower cost ceramic materials and new combinations, especially with metal signal lines embedded in the material
"The manufacturing process is based on the geological process of rock formation," said researcher Florian Bouville.
Tests have shown, the new material can withstand about ten times as much force as concrete before it breaks. So far, the scientists have produced material samples of about the size of a coin using a conventional hydraulic press such as those normally used in industry. "The challenge is to generate a sufficiently high pressure for the compacting process. Larger workpieces require a correspondingly greater force," said Bouville. According to the scientists, ceramic pieces the size of small tiles should theoretically be feasible.
"For a long time, material scientists have been searching for a way to produce ceramic materials under mild conditions, as the firing process requires a large amount of energy," said Studart.