Ceramic Matrix Composites

  • Krishan K. Chawla


Ceramic materials in general have a very attractive package of properties: high strength and high stiffness at very high temperatures, chemical inertness, low density, and so on. This attractive package is marred by one deadly flaw, namely, an utter lack of toughness. They are prone to catastrophic failures in the presence of flaws (surface or internal). They are extremely susceptible to thermal shock and are easily damaged during fabrication and/or service. It is therefore understandable that an overriding consideration in ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) is to toughen the ceramics by incorporating fibers in them and thus exploit the attractive high-temperature strength and environmental resistance of ceramic materials without risking a catastrophic failure. It is worth pointing out at the very outset that there are certain basic differences between CMCs and other composites. The general philosophy in nonceramic matrix composites is to have the fiber bear a greater proportion of the applied load. This load partitioning depends on the ratio of fiber and matrix elastic moduli, Ef/Em. In nonceramic matrix composites, this ratio can be very high, while in CMCs, it is rather low and can be as low as unity; think of alumina fiber reinforced alumina matrix composite. Another distinctive point regarding CMCs is that because of limited matrix ductility and generally high fabrication temperature, thermal mismatch between components has a very important bearing on CMC performance. The problem of chemical compatibility between components in CMCs has ramifications similar to those in, say, MMCs. We first describe some of the processing techniques for CMCs, followed by a description of some salient characteristics of CMCs regarding interface and mechanical properties and, in particular, the various possible toughness mechanisms, and finally a description of some applications of CMCs.


Thermal Shock Resistance Ceramic Matrix Ceramic Matrix Composite Fiber Pullout Crack Deflection 
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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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