The Role of Particle Contact in Densification of FLASH Sintered Potassium Sodium Niobate

Potassium sodium niobate, K0.5Na0.5NbO3 (KNN) is a lead‐free piezoelectric with the potential to replace lead zirconate titanate (PZT) in electromechanical applications. Due to its cuboid particle morphology and volatile elements, monophasic and dense ceramics are difficult to obtain via conventional sintering. In this work, isothermal FLASH sintering produced uniformly densified KNN ceramics at 900 °C, 200 °C lower than conventional sintering. Specific surface area (SSA) analysis of pre‐FLASH ceramics revealed that a 30 min isothermal hold at 900 °C, before the application of electric field, increased the contact area between particles and was crucial to promote uniform densification. Finite element modelling (FEM) revealed why density is more uniform when using isothermal heating compared with a constant heating rate, commonly used in FLASH sintering. These results extend our understanding of FLASH sintering and illustrate its relevance for the development of lead‐free piezoelectrics.