Episode 3: Making Materials in a Microwave
or in other words, the many kitchen microwaves who gave their lives for science
In this episode we learn about an unexpected approach to processing materials: the common kitchen microwave. While most people only think about the microwave when it’s time to reheat some leftovers, there has been a surprising scientific interest from materials researchers in the last few decades. In fact, microwave processing can achieve pretty remarkable feats such as extremely rapid sintering and heat treatment of materials as well as providing a means for microstructural control in alloys. There have even been cases where people have used it to weld and join materials together. In this episode we explain how microwave heating works in the first place, some of the past successes with this technique and we interview Dr. Christina Birkel who uses this as a critical component to her lab dedicated to the synthesis of novel new materials.
A great review article which you can refer to for additional information is “Microwave Processing of Materials and Applications in Manufacturing Industries: A Review” written by Singh, Gupta, Jain, and Sharma in the journal Materials and Manufacturing Processes. The link is https://doi.org/10.1080/10426914.2014.952028. We can also recommend checking out Christina’s article “Non-conventional synthesis and magnetic properties of MAX phases (Cr/Mn)2AlC and (Cr/Fe)2AlC” in Journal of Materials Chemistry C which you can find at https://doi.org/10.1039/c7tc00112f.
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