Ceramics can now be made at room temperature using intense pressure rather than being fired.
The compacting process developed by scientists takes only an hour to complete and is far more energy efficient than firing in a kiln which requires the generation of intense heat to produce everyday objects from bricks to domestic tiling.
André Studart, Professor of Complex Materials at ETH Zurich, said: “Our work is the first evidence that a piece of ceramic material can be manufactured at room temperature in such a short amount of time and with relatively low pressures.”
Just as sedimentary rock is formed by the compression over millions of years of calcium carbonate – resulting in limestone – researchers used calcium carbonate nanoparticles as a starting material to make ceramics created by pressure alone.
The long-term potential presented by producing environmentally friendly substitutes for cement-based materials by means of sustainable cold sintering, is an additional spur to further research.