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Process for the production of transparent ceramics

Additive Manufacturingdopantpolycrystalstereolithographytransparent ceramic

Introduction

The invention relates to a process for the production of ceramic-based transparent materials with a variable 3-dimensional (3D) composition and complex shapes; the invention also relates to possibly doped transparent ceramics, which find use in laser gain media, scintillators and lighting.

Technical features

The invention describes a process to obtain transparent ceramic components based on yttrium aluminum garnet Y3Al5O12 (YAG) undoped and doped with rare earth and transition metals ions. It relates to an additive manufacturing process, stereolithography, for the production, starting from a CAD drawing, of YAG-based transparent ceramic materials with a variable 3-dimensional (3D) composition and dopant distribution, complex shapes, and providing complete control of the shape and of the composition. The complex and controlled distribution of doping ions and their complex shape of the components allow to modulate and fine-tune their properties for applications such as laser gain media, scintillators and lighting.

The invention also relates to all the processing steps that are necessary to obtain the final components, i.e. selection of the starting powders and organic additives mutually compatible and suitable for stereolithography, the rebinding and the sintering treatments.

The minimum dimensions of the components obtainable with the invention are 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 mm.
The maximum dimensions of the components obtainable with the invention are 100 x 100 x 9 mm.

Possible Applications

  • Laser gain media;
  • Waveguides with complex geometries and interconnections for telecommunication and optical computing;
  • High-resolution ionizing radiation detectors;
  • Light converters for laser headlights.

Advantages

  • Near-net shape process, 30 % saving in energy and production costs, 20 % scrap reduction and sgnificantly limited post-processing;
  • Industrial scalability;
  • More precise control and higher degree of freedom in dopant distribution, composition and shape.