This study examines thermal gradients in ceramic oxide spheroids being aerodynamically levitated in a conical nozzle levitator (CNL) system equipped with a CO 2 laser (10.6 µm wavelength). The CNL system is a versatile piece of equipment that can easily be coupled with advanced thermophysical and thermochemical measuring devices, such as diffraction/scattering (X-ray and neutron), nuclear magnetic resonance, and calorimetry, for the analysis of bulk spheroidal solids and liquids. The thermal gradients of a series of single crystal, polycrystalline solids, and liquid spheroids have been measured spatially in the CNL system, by means of a disappearing filament pyrometer (800-3000 °C) and by X-ray diffraction with reference to an internal standard (Pt: 800-1600 °C). The thermal gradient in a levitated sample being heated by a laser from the top can be minimized by: (i) maximizing the sphericity, (ii) maximizing the density, and (iii) minimizing microstructural features. A spheroid with these properties can be manufactured via machining a perfect sphere from a highly dense, chemically and phase pure pellet. These properties promote rotation of the sample about multiple axes in the air stream, enabling homogeneous heating. This homogeneous heating is the dominant factor in reducing thermal gradients in solid state samples. It was found that the thermal gradient in an ∼3 mm diameter solid sample could be reduced from 1000 °C to 30 °C, by having a perfectly spherical shape that could rotate on multiple axes in a high velocity gas stream (∼1500-2000 cm 3 /min). These findings will allow accurate thermophysical and thermochemical property measurements of solids in situ at high temperatures, using the CNL system.
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