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In microsystem technology, four important material classes are established either for the generation or the replication of microstructured surfaces: silicon, polymers, metals and ceramics. Composite materials consisting of a polymer matrix and ceramic fillers show improved thermomechanical properties in comparison to polymers and can be introduced as a new additional material class. The substitution of micro-sized ceramic fillers by nano-sized ceramics in composites has a strong influence on the composite's physical properties: the reduction of ceramic particle size down to the nanometre scale results in an improved sinter activity owing to the large surface area. The fabrication of dense ceramics is simplified and can be used for a rapid prototyping of microstructured ceramic parts. The addition of nano-sized ceramics with particle sizes of <40 nm to polymers allows the manufacturing of transparent polymer based composites with modified refractive indices for use in polymer waveguides. The influence of the ceramic particle size, the ceramic content and different dispersion methods on the composite's physical properties are discussed.
Date of Publication: 2 Aug. 2004