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Characterization of hardness, elastic modulus and fracture toughness of RB-SiC ceramics at elevated temperature by Vickers test

Rao, Xiaoshuang and Zhang, Feihu and Luo, Xichun and Ding, Fei (2019) Characterization of hardness, elastic modulus and fracture toughness of RB-SiC ceramics at elevated temperature by Vickers test. Materials Science and Engineering A: Structural Materials: Properties, Microstructure and Processing, 744. pp. 426-435. ISSN 0921-5093

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    In this paper, mechanical properties of RB-SiC ceramics, such as hardness, elastic modulus and fracture toughness, are characterized through indentation technique using a Vickers indenter at elevated temperatures ranging from room temperature to1200 °C realized by laser heating. The indentation size effect, load-displacement curves and relationship between crack length and applied load are studied in order to determine hardness, elastic modulus and fracture toughness accurately. The results show that the Meyer's index and Vickers hardness decrease with the increase temperature. It indicates that the permanent plastic deformation of RB-SiC ceramics is mainly responsible for the indentation size effect and the reduction of hardness at elevated temperature. Both material softening and plastic deformation will contribute to the indentation creep at elevated temperature as shown in the load-displacement curves. The elastic modulus decreases with the increase of temperature due to increase of contact depth as a result of less elastic recovery. In the indentation test for calculating fracture toughness, only radial-median cracks are identified by the relationship between crack length and applied load at all temperatures, although the fracture mode observed at the indent corner changes from transgranular at room temperature to intergranular at elevated temperature. As more energy is consumed by intergranular facture and cracking-healing takes place due to oxidation, only short crack length appears in the indentation test which implies an increase of fracture toughness with the increase of temperature. However, this tendency has an exception at the highest temperature of 1200 °C. This is because the free Si softening in RB-SiC specimen fails to resist crack propagation at extremely high temperature. Consequently, the crack length increases again which leads to the increase of the calculating fracture toughness at the highest temperature. These variations of hardness, elastic modulus and fracture toughness with temperatures will account for the possible change of material removal regimes occurred in some thermal-involved hybrid machining of RB-SiC ceramics.