Smartphones that don’t scratch or shatter. Metal-free pacemakers. Electronics for space and other harsh environments. These could all be made possible thanks to a new ceramic welding technology developed by a team of engineers led by the University of California San Diego.
The process, published in the Aug. 23 issue of Science, uses an ultrafast pulsed laser to melt ceramic materials along the interface and fuse them together. It works in ambient conditions and uses less than 50 watts of laser power, making it more practical than current ceramic welding methods that require heating the parts in a furnace.
Ceramics have been fundamentally challenging to weld together because they need extremely high temperatures to melt, exposing them to extreme temperature gradients that cause cracking, explained senior author Javier E. Garay, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at UC San Diego, who led the work in collaboration with UC Riverside professor and chair of mechanical engineering Guillermo Aguilar.