Materialism: A Materials Science Podcast
An exploration of the past, present, and future of materials science and engineering.
2 years ago

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 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

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at [email protected] Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play or wherever you find your podcasts. Finally, check out our Instagram page @materialism.podcast and connect with us to let us know what new material you’d like to hear about next. Special thanks to Kolobyte who created the intro/outro music for our podcast. He makes a ton of really cool synthwave music which you can check out at We also appreciate ALPHABOT who let us use some of his awesome music for transitions. Check out his stuff at

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