Degree Granting Department
Ashok Kumar, Ph.D.
B4C, Silicon carbide, SiC, Titanium diboride, TiB2
The mechanical properties of boron carbide (B4C) with 10 and 20 vol% particulate inclusions of commercially available nano-sized alpha-phase silicon carbide (a-SiC) or micron-sized titanium diboride (TiB2) were investigated so as to produce a fine-grained material with high hardness, toughness, and overall strength in order to increase the effectiveness of B4C as a structural ceramic, whose use in the field has been limited because of the extreme brittle nature of the material. Full density sintering of the ceramics (+ [or] -99% theoretical) was completed using the novel Plasma Pressure Compaction (P²C®) technique, which limited grain growth due to a reduced processing temperature and a significantly reduced consolidation time. The reinforced ceramic composites had particulate grains homogeneously distributed within the B4C matrix. X-ray diffraction patterns confirmed that the constituents did not interdiffuse.
The four-point flexure strength for the monolithic B4C ceramic was found to be significantly larger than any recorded value found in scientific literature, and was most likely attributed to the fine-grained microstructure resulting from the P²C® processing. The mechanical properties of the nano-sized a-SiC-B4C ceramics showed a slight increase in the Chevron-notched four-point bend fracture toughness due to the crack deflection toughening mechanism. A slight decrease in the Vickers microhardness and the static elastic modulus values were also observed. A significant increase in the fracture toughness as well as a slight increase in the microhardness and elastic modulus of the micron-sized TiB2-B4C materials was found.
The toughening mechanism of this composite was attributed to the slight chemical bond between the B4C matrix and the ultra-small, ultra-tough TiB2 particulates, which forced a propagating crack to completely rip apart the TiB2 reinforcing particles. This cleaving nature resulted in significant amounts of energy being absorbed by the micron-sized particulates. It was concluded that the composite with 20 vol% TiB2 allowed for the largest gain in toughness because it possessed the largest number of ultra small, ultra tough particulate-cracktip interactions.
Scholar Commons Citation
Hankla, Lorenzo W., "Mechanical properties of particulate-reinforced boron carbide composites" (2008). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.