Ceramics and Composites

Substantial interest has arisen in recent years in fabricating ceramic composites. While there is considerable interest in composites with one or more non-ceramic constituents, the greatest attention is on composites in which all constituents are ceramic. These typically comprise two ceramic constituents: a continuous matrix and a dispersed phase of ceramic particles, whiskers, or short (chopped) or continuous ceramic fibers. The challenge, as in wet chemical processing, is to obtain a uniform or homogeneous distribution of the dispersed particle or fibre phase. Consider first the processing of particulate composites. The particulate phase of greatest interest is tetragonal zirconia because of the toughening that can be achieved from the phase transformation from the metastable tetragonal to the monoclinic crystalline phase, aka transformation toughening. There is also substantial interest in dispersion of hard, non-oxide phases such as SiC, TiB, TiC, boron, carbon and especially oxide matrices like alumina and mullet. There is also interest too incorporating other ceramic particulates, especially those of highly anisotropic thermal expansion. Examples include Al2O3, TiO2, graphite, and boron nitride. In processing particulate composites, the issue is not only homogeneity of the size and spatial distribution of the dispersed and matrix phases, but also control of the matrix grain size. However, there is some built-in self-control due to inhibition of matrix grain growth by the dispersed phase. Particulate composites, though generally offer increased resistance to damage, failure, or both, are still quite sensitive to in homogeneities of composition as well as other processing defects such as pores. Thus they need good processing to be effective.

 

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