Rick Ubic, a professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering and director of the Boise State Center for Materials Characterization, has been awarded a $297,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct exploratory research into room-temperature fabrication of electroceramics.
Electroceramics possess various useful electrical properties, and they are ubiquitous in modern technology.
“Electroceramics are everywhere. They’re in your phone, your computer, your car, your fridge, your TV. The global electroceramic market is expected to be worth $11.5 billion in 2022,” said Ubic.
The goal of Ubic’s project is to develop room-temperature processable capacitor oxides with useful electrical properties that can be applied throughout the electroceramics industry to lower costs, energy consumption and consequent greenhouse gas emissions.
Currently, the creation of electroceramics requires materials to be densified via a process called sintering, in which high heat is typically applied. The issue with this method is that the different materials used in devices may not respond compatibly during the sintering processes. Additionally, it requires a great deal of energy and is expensive.
Ubic said that the the goal of the project will be to use transmission electron microscopy studies to determine the densification mechanisms/kinetics involved in the creation of electroceramics. This research will provide a fuller understanding of the mechanisms and kinetics of the room-temperature densification of oxides and prove an essential step towards creating room-temperature fabrication methods.
“Electroceramics underpin several industries, including microelectronics, power distribution, transportation, aerospace/defense, and environmental monitoring. Our research will potentially impact all these industries,” said Ubic. “Developing materials and methods that allow electroceramics to be fabricated at room temperature (i.e., without sintering) will save time, energy and money while enabling a broader scope of microelectronic components which can be manufactured.”
Postdoctoral researcher Evan Smith (an alumnus of Boise State) will conduct much of the lab work in the Micron Engineering Center on campus, and an undergraduate student also will be recruited to assist in the research.
– By Brianne Phillips