Mechanical milling is an effective technique for the preparation of fine metallic and ceramic powders and can also be used to drive a wide range of chemical reactions. Milling devices include planetary machines, attritors and vibrational mills; products include amorphous, nanocrystalline and quasicrystalline materials, supersaturated solid solutions, reduced minerals, high-surface-area catalysts and reactive chemicals1,2,3. During milling, solid–solid, solid–liquid and solid–gas reactions are initiated through repeated deformation and fracture of powder particles. A separate materials synthesis and processing technique involves reacting a material in a gas atmosphere under an electrical discharge4,5,6,7. Here we show that the application of low-current, high-voltage electrical impulses during milling can result in both faster reactions and new synthesis and processing routes. We demonstrate the effects of glow (cold) and spark (hot) discharge milling on particle fracture for brittle, low-conductivity materials and ductile metals. Glow discharge milling was found to promote solid–gas reactions whereas spark discharge milling promotes fast fracturing, recrystallization, mineral reduction and solid–solid reactions.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.83 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Zoz, H. Attritor technology—latest developments. Mater. Sci. Forum 179–181, 419–424 (1995)
Koch, C. C. Materials synthesis by mechanical alloying. Annu. Rev. Mater. Sci. 18, 121–143 (1989)
Basset, D., Matteazzi, P. & Mani, F. Designing a high energy ball-mill for synthesis nanophase materials in large quantities. Mater. Sci. Eng. A A168, 149–152 (1993)
Pelletier, J. et al. New trends in DECR plasma technology: applications to novel duplex treatments and process combinations with extreme plasma specifications. Surf. Coat. Technol. 139, 222–232 (2001)
Takaki, K., Taguchi, D. & Fujiwara, T. Voltage–current characteristics of high-current glow discharges. Appl. Phys Lett. 78, 2646–2648 (2001)
Mishra, R. S. & Mukherjee, A. K. Electric pulse assisted rapid consolidation of ultrafine grained alumina matrix composites. Mater. Sci. Eng. A A287, 178–182 (2000)
El-Eskandarany, M. S., Sumijama, K., Aoki, K. & Suzuki, K. Syntheses of full-density nanocrystalline titanium nitride compacts by plasma-activated sintering of mechanically reacted powder. Met. Mater. Trans. A 29A, 1973–1981 (1998)
Calka, A. & Radlinski, A. P. Universal high performance ball milling device and its application for mechanical alloying. Mater. Sci. Eng. A134, 1350–1353 (1991)
Wexler, D., Calka, A. & Colburn, S. J. Rapid sintering of nanostructural powder to form Si3N4 . Mater. Sci. Forum 269–272, 219–224 (1998)
Li, Z. L., Williams, J. S. & Calka, A. The role of hydrogen and iron in silicon nitridation by ball milling. J. Appl. Phys. 81, 8028–8034 (1997)
We acknowledge R. deJong, R. Kinnell and S. Selby for their contributions towards construction of the discharge milling devices. We are especially grateful to D. Dunne for his support and leadership. This project was supported by funding from the Australian Research Council.
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Calka, A., Wexler, D. Mechanical milling assisted by electrical discharge. Nature 419, 147–151 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature00985
Optical Materials (2020)
Trends in Food Science & Technology (2019)
Synthesis of copper nanoparticles from refractory sulfides using a semi-industrial mechanochemical approach
Advanced Powder Technology (2019)
Journal of Mechanics (2019)