Solution chemistry is a versatile and powerful tool in the synthesis of designed, complex nano-level high-tech materials. Normally, the technique is considered too expensive for large-scale production of complex multi-component ceramic materials. This thesis describes the expansion of the useful area of solution processing to multi-component bulk materials such as ZnO-based high-field varistors and WC–Co cutting tools, by developing novel techniques for solution-based coating of conventionally prepared metal and ceramic powders. The chemistry and microstructure development in the preparation of coatings, and the sintering of the coated powders to compacts, were studied in detail by SEM-EDS, TEM-EDS, XRD, IR-spectroscopy, dilatometry, TGA and DSC chemical analysis.
ZnO powder with a ca 20 nm thick, homogeneous oxide coat of Bi–Sb–Ni–Co–Mn–Cr–Al oxide was prepared. After sintering to dense varistor bodies, much improved microstructures with much reduced ZnO-grain sizes were obtained. This shows that the oxides added as liquid sintering aid and grain-growth inhibitor become much more active when added homogeneously as a skin on the ZnO powder.
After sintering of cobalt-coated WC, much improved micro-structures were obtained with a much more narrow WC grain-size distribution than that obtained from starting powders mixed by a conventional milling route. Coated powders also obviate the need for the extensive milling of WC and Co powders used in conventional mixing.
The novel solution route was also applied to preparation of porous sponges and thin films on metal, glass and Al2O3 of sub 20 nm sized Co- or Ni-particles.