Phase-pure powders of stoichiometric BiFeO3 have been prepared by mechanosynthesis. Ceramics sintered by either conventional heating in air or spark plasma sintering (SPS) followed by oxidative anneal in air are highly insulating at room temperature with resistivity, extrapolated from the Arrhenius plots, of ~1016 Ωcm and activation energy 1.15(2) eV, comparable with those of a good-quality BiFeO3 single crystal. By contrast, the as-prepared SPS sample without the postsinter anneal shows lower resistivity, e.g., ~1010 Ωcm at 25°C and activation energy 0.67(3) eV, indicating some reduction in the sample by the SPS process. The reason for the high conductivity reported for some ceramic samples in the literature remains unclear at present.
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