Grupp, R.; Nöthe, M.; Kieback, B.; Banhart, J.: Cooperative material transport during the early stage of sintering. Nature Communications 2 (2011), p. 298/1-6
10.1038/ncomms1300

Abstract:
The complex transport processes contributing to sintering are not yet fully understood, partially because in-situ observations of sintering in three dimensions (3D) are very difficult. Here we report a novel experiment in which monocrystalline copper spheres are first marked with microscopic boreholes drilled using a focused ion beam, after which high-resolution synchrotron X-ray tomography is carried out to measure translational, rolling and intrinsic rotation movements of some hundred spheres during sintering. Unlike in 1D and 2D systems, we show that, in 3D, intrinsic rotations are more pronounced than angular rolling rearrangements of the particle centres and become the dominant mechanism of particle movement. We conclude that in addition to the well-known neck growth and centre approach mechanisms, grain boundary sliding caused by the different crystallographic orientations of the individual spheres occurs.