Journal of Materials Research


Colloidal processing of chemically prepared zinc oxide varistors. Part I: Milling and dispersion of powder

Nelson S. Bella1 c1, Joe Cesaranoa1, James A. Voigta1, Steve J. Lockwooda1 and Duane B. Dimosa1

a1 Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185


Chemically prepared zinc oxide powders are fabricated for the production of high aspect ratio varistor components. Colloidal processing was performed to reduce agglomerates to primary particles, form a high solids loading slurry, and prevent dopant migration. The milled and dispersed powder exhibited a viscoelastic to elastic behavioral transition at a volume loading of 43–46%. The origin of this transition was studied using acoustic spectroscopy, zeta potential measurements, and oscillatory rheology. The phenomenon occurs due to a volume fraction solids dependent reduction in the zeta potential of the solid phase. It is postulated to result from divalent ion binding within the polyelectrolyte dispersant chain and was mitigated using a polyethylene glycol plasticizing additive. This allowed for increased solids loading in the slurry and a green body fabrication study to be presented in our companion paper.

(Received July 24 2003)

(Accepted October 28 2003)

Key Words:

  • Powder processing;
  • Attrition


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail: