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Aluminate sodalite ceramics, (Sr8Al12O24)(CrO4)2) — SACR, have been prepared from solution spray-dried precursors. The spray drying of a mixed aqueous nitrate solution gave an anhydrous powder which was thermally decomposed in air at 1350 °C to give a crystalline SACR powder with a median volume diameter of 4–6 μm. The SACR powder was dry pressed and sintered to >90% density. The yellow SACR powder showed two phase transitions between 10 and 45 °C with a 25 ° intermediate phase region indicative of a low defect concentration in the crystalline structure. A colour change observed in the sintered ceramic (changing to a mixed green/yellow) and a narrowing of the phase transition region (15–40 °C) are discussed. Dielectric measurements were consistent with the presence of two extrinsic ferroelectric transitions at 17 and 35 °C.

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We have designed, built and calibrated a microcomputer-controller automated a.c. calorimeter for liquid crystals and solid samples, in the temperature range from 30 to 250°C, in which we enhance several features of previous ones reported in the literature. We have incorporate the lock-in amplifier model 5302 from EG&G in our set-up, which permits to extend the frequency range to 1 mHz. This allows the performance of suitable frequency sweeps in order to choose the optimum operating frequency for low thermal conductivity materials. The calorimeter has been calibrated with the 8OCB liquid crystal compound. The resolution obtained forC p values was better than 0.1% and the absolute erroer around 5%. As applications, we show the ferroelectric transition of the triglicerine sulphate (TGS), the Nematic-Smetic A transition of the 8OCB and a study in a binary system of ferroelectric liquid crystals, SCE9-SCE10.

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