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Novel ceramic architectures

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We focus mostly on the use of ice templating. Ice templating is a powerful shaping technique to obtain sophisticated porous materials and composites. In ice templating, the particles in suspension in the slurry are ejected from the moving solidification front and pile up between the growing columnar or lamellar ice, in a similar way to salt and biological organisms entrapped in brine channels in sea ice. The variety of materials processed by ice templating suggests that the underlying principles of the technique are not strongly dependent on the materials but rely more on physical rather than chemical interactions. The phenomenon is very similar to that of unidirectional solidification of cast materials and binary alloys, with ice playing the role of a fugitive second phase. The porosity of the sintered materials is a replica of the original ice structure. Since the solidification is often directional, the porous channels run from the bottom to the top of the samples.

We investigate the process at all levels, from fundamental investigations on the solidification of colloidal suspensions using X-ray radiography and tomography, to the control of the ice crystal growth using antifreeze-like compounds. The potential use of ice-templated materials is currently assessed for a variety of industrial applications. 

The activity is supported by an ERC Starting Grant obtained in 2011.

A large part of the work is carried out in collaboration with academic partners such as MATEIS lab (CNRS UMR5510) at INSA Lyon or the Oxford Center for Collaborative Applied Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Ice-templated porous ceramics


3D reconstruction from X-ray tomography of ice crystals grown in a colloidal suspension