Engineering damage tolerant failure modes into chemically bonded phosphate ceramic matrix composites
VALENZUELA-HEEGER E. 1, BINNER J. 1, HAWKINS C. 2
1 University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom; 2 DSTL, Salisbury, United Kingdom
Oxide based ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) have seen a rise in popularity over the last 20 years, with applications in many fields including aerospace, nuclear and space exploration. Traditionally oxide-based CMCs require high temperature processing routes, however these temperatures can be reduced by 50% with the use of a chemically bonded phosphate based pre-ceramic. Chemically bonded phosphate ceramics, specifically aluminium phosphate, yields excellent strength, low coefficient of thermal expansion, minimal shrinkage up to 1500°C and desirable chemical inertness at these high temperatures. Aluminium phosphates originally played a role within the dental ceramic industry; however, their previously listed properties has enabled the generation of recent attraction in CMC research. Synthesis of aluminium phosphates via dehydration creates a water swollen polymer network known as a hydrogel which possesses hydrogen bonds. The hydrogen bonds enable the dispersion of particles introduced into the system, which has the potential to enhance the properties of the ceramic matrix. An exploration of the production of these aluminium phosphate hydrogels and how they can be developed to form porous matrix CMCs with damage tolerant failure modes under tensile testing has been conducted. Utilising an Al2O3 : P2O5 ratio of 1 : 2.3 and analysing the impact of different Al2O3 solid loadings, as well as the percentage hydration of the hydrogel, on the crack propagation performance of these developed CMCs. Advancements from weak CMCs with brittle failure to stronger composites which possess damage tolerant failure mechanisms can be seen through this exploration, demonstrating advancements within the chemically bonded phosphate ceramic matrix composite domain.