Two-stage densification process of nanosized 3 mol% yttria-stabilized zirconia (3Y-SZ) polycrystalline compacts during consolidation via microwave and spark-plasma sintering have been observed. The values of activation energies obtained for microwave and spark-plasma sintering 260–275
kJ·mol−1 are quite similar to that of conventional sintering of zirconia, suggesting that densification during initial stage is controlled by the grain-boundary diffusion mechanism. The sintering behavior during microwave sintering was significantly affected by preliminary
pressing conditions, as the surface diffusion mechanism (230 kJ·mol−1) is active in case of cold-isostatic pressing procedure was applied.
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