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Award Abstract #1229131

MRI: Acquisition of a spark plasma sintering system for engineering advanced energy materials and materials science education

Division Of Materials Research
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Initial Amendment Date: September 8, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: September 8, 2012
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Award Number: 1229131
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Leonard Spinu
DMR Division Of Materials Research
MPS Direct For Mathematical & Physical Scien
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Start Date: September 15, 2012
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End Date: August 31, 2016 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $202,580.00
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Investigator(s): Jianshi Zhou jszhou@mail.utexas.edu (Principal Investigator)
Li Shi (Co-Principal Investigator)
Desiderio Kovar (Co-Principal Investigator)
Arumugam Manthiram (Co-Principal Investigator)
John Goodenough (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Texas at Austin
101 E. 27th Street, Suite 5.300
Austin, TX 78712-1532 (512)471-6424
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Program Reference Code(s): 1189, 7237, 9161, AMPP
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Program Element Code(s): 1189


This award to the University of Texas at Austin is for the acquisition of a Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) system. Spark plasma sintering is an innovative technique that emerged in recent years for material syntheses and consolidation. In SPS both external pressure and pulsed current are applied simultaneously to enhance the consolidation of a wide range of ceramic, metallic, and composite powders. Local heating occurs primarily at gaps between particles where the applied electric field induces sparks and the formation of a high-energy plasma. As a result the consolidation can be completed within a shorter time, which allows grain growth and ion diffusion to be efficiently controlled and prevented. These unique features makes SPS suitable to fabricate more complex materials such as heterogeneous materials with specifically defined interface structure, nanostructured materials, and composite materials. The SPS system will be used to develop novel materials for energy applications such as thermoelectrics to recover waste heat, high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells to efficiently convert chemical energy directly into electricity, solid-state electrolytes for high-voltage lithium ion batteries, and low temperature polymer-electrolyte fuel cell plates with high corrosion resistance and low electrical contact resistance.

The SPS system will be one of the major facilities for materials fabrication at the University of Texas at Austin. The system will be managed through the Materials Science and Engineering Program and will be accessible to researchers across campus. The SPS technique adds a new capability to explore a much broader range of materials that cannot be made using conventional sintering. Research activities with the SPS technique will be integrated into the graduate curriculum in the Texas Materials Institute. In addition to lectures on the SPS technique, the availability of this new equipment will offer students in the materials science program an excellent hands-on experience with an advanced materials synthesis techniques. The PIs and their students will give lectures and/or demonstrations of clean energy experiments to students at middle and high schools as well as to the general public and K-12 students at Explore UT, a campus-wide open house.


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(1) X. Chen, Weathers, A., Salta, D., Zhang, L. B., Zhou, J. S., Goodenough, J. B., and Shi, L.,. "Effects of (Al,Ge) Double Doping on the Thermoelectric Properties of Higher Manganese Silicides," Journal of Applied Physics,, v.114, 2013, p. 173705.

(2) X. Chen, Girard, S. N., Meng, F., Lara-Curzio, E., Jin, S., Goodenough, J. B., Zhou, J., and Shi, L.. "Approaching the Minimum Thermal Conductivity in Rhenium-Substituted Higher Manganese Silicides," Advanced Energy Materials, 2014, p. DOI: 10.1.

(1) Steven N. Girard, Xi Chen, Fei Meng, Ankit Pokhrel, Jianshi Zhou, Li Shi, and Song Jin. "Thermoelectric Properties of Undoped High Purity Higher Manganese Silicides Grown by Chemical Vapor Transport," Chemistry of Materials, v.26, 2014, p. 5097.

(2) Xi Chen, Li Shi, Jianshi Zhou, and John B. Goodenough. "Effects of ball milling on microstructures and thermoelectric properties of higher manganese silicides," Journal of Alloys and Compounds, v.641, 2015, p. 30.

Libin Zhang, Penghao Xiao, Li Shi, Graeme Henkelman, John B. Goodenough, Jianshi Zhou. "Suppressing the bipolar contribution to the thermoelectric properties of Mg2Si0.4Sn0.6 solid solution by Ge substitution," Journal of Applied Physics, v.117, 2015, p. 155103.


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