AlN powders (particle size = 0.44 ± 0.08 μm) containing no deliberate sintering additives were consolidated to near theoretical density in 5 min at 2003 K (1730 °C) using a Plasma Activated Sintering (PAS) process. PAS is a novel consolidation method that combines a very short time at high temperature with pressure application in a plasma environment. The in situ cleaning ability of powder particle during plasma activated densification leads to enhanced particle sinterability. The densities of undoped AlN specimens that were PAS consolidated at 2003 K for 5 min under 50 MPa pressure ranged from 97.5 to 99.3% of theoretical. The initial submicron particle size of AlN powders was retained in the final microstructure that consisted of polycrystalline grains with an average size of ≍0.77 ± 0.1 μm.
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