Being able to seal the stainless steel completely with ceramics is tricky, because heat is often used to attach the ceramic insulators to the stainless steel. Glass and stainless steel behave very differently in the presence of heat. Glass ceramics are brittle and stainless steel expands rapidly.
Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratory have developed a technique that can help bond glass ceramics and stainless steel together in a way that doesn’t put the ceramics at risk of shattering. By doping the ceramics with an oxidizing agent that reacts with alloys in the stainless steel at the point of ceramic contact, they can gradually build a strong bond between the two materials.
The team tested about two dozen different oxidants before determining the two that performed the best. Their goal was to allow the oxidant interfacing to expand at a rate that was similar to the stainless steel. By manipulating the reaction, the scientists could protect the glass during the bonding process, and limit or eliminate the possibility of shattering.
The team intends to continue research to determine whether the technique can be applied to bonding processes in other dissimilar materials. If they’re successful, their work could be used in energy, aerospace and electronics.
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Photo Credit: Chris D 2006, via Flickr.com