Ceramic Industry

Shedding New Light on Advanced Materials

May 11, 2000
A unique, compact furnace combined with high-energy X-rays is giving researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory the ability to directly record the chemical and structural changes of complex materials at high temperatures under real processing conditions. The system is ideal for complex materials such as structural ceramics, superconducting wires and nanostructured materials.

The furnace uses an analytical technique known as X-ray diffraction, in which an X-ray beam is focused on a small sample of material. The beam is diffracted by the crystal structure of each material, producing a unique pattern of concentric circles, called “Debye rings.” By capturing the images of the changes in the ring pattern as the material is heated and cooled, scientists gain a better fundamental understanding of what happens to the material’s crystal structure at various temperatures.

“We’re seeing details of the phase transitions in the materials that I don’t think anybody has ever described before,” said scientist Matt Kramer, who helped design the new furnace.

For additional information, contact Kramer at (515) 294-0276.