Microwave Processing of Nanostructured Materials

Period of Performance: 12/10/2001 - 12/10/2003

$730K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanopowder Enterprises, Inc.
120 Centennial Ave.
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Principal Investigator

Abstract

In Phase I we demonstrated that Microwave Sintering of Nanostructured Powders is a commercially viable near net shape process for producing fine grained sintered materials. The proposed Phase II program will advance the technology to a state of commercial readiness. Several areas of application, many of them of particular importance to the US Army, such as penetrators, shaped charges, transparent armors, radar domes, EM and sensor windows, and ballistic protection shields, will benefit immensely from an economical and large volume near net shape processing technology. In Phase I, working with our collaborators at PennState University, we demonstrated for the first time that high sintered densities and a fine grain size are obtained in a microwave furnace by using ultrafine grained powders with tailored morphologies as starting material. The fine grained structure is advantageous in many cases, e.g. shaped charge liners. Our innovative approach is especially suited for materials which are otherwise difficult-to-consolidate, such as phase pure tungsten and aluminum oxynitride. Capitalizing on the recent progress in scaling of the microwave sintering process to large volume, combined with the ability to sinter nanocrystalline metal powders to near theoretical density, we propose (i) to scale the microwave furnace to allow sintering of large volume components with specific geometries, and (ii) to use our nanocrystalline powder-microwave sintering approach to fabricate prototype tungsten shaped charge liners and test components of high purity aluminum oxynitride. The immediate outcome of the program will be the availability of a new economical near net shape production technology for fine grained metal and ceramic components. An indirect consequence of our program will be the availability of fine grained tungsten and aluminum oxynitride powders, the latter being particularly scarce at the present time. Industrial partners have already expressed their willingness to work with us to commercialize our technology in Phase III.