Effect of Fibre Heat-Treatment on Nicalon SiC Fibre Reinforced β-SiAlON Matrix Composites
Nicalon SiC fibre tows have excellent properties for ceramic matrix reinforcement but residual oxygen within the fibres degrades fibre properties when these are incorporated into ceramic matrices at elevated temperatures. β-SiAlON ceramics also have excellent mechanical and physical properties, especially fracture toughness. However, sintering of β-SiAlON is generally carried out at 1650-1750°C, considerably higher than the temperatures above which fibre degradation occurs (>1200°C). In the present study, the refractoriness and strength of Nicalon fibres were improved by high pressure CO heat treatment, and densification temperatures of β-SiAlON were lowered by using different kinds of sintering additives. Heat-treatment of the fibres under 45 bar CO pressure at 1500-1650°C led to an increase in fibre strength and to the formation of a thin carbon layer on the surface of the fibres. These improvements in the Nicalon SiC fibres allowed them to be incorporated successfully into β-SiAlON matrices. The as-received and heat-treated fibres were infiltrated with β-SiAlON starting powder mixes and hot-pressed with low temperature sintering additives at 1600-1700°C for 30 min. Bending strength and fracture toughness measurements showed that samples containing heat-treated fibres provided a significant strength and fracture toughness increase compared with similar samples prepared using as-received fibres, and massive pull-out was observed because of the weak interface resulting from the surface carbon coating on the fibres.
A. Demir and D. P. Thompson, "Effect of Fibre Heat-Treatment on Nicalon SiC Fibre Reinforced β-SiAlON Matrix Composites ", Materials Science Forum, Vol. 554, pp. 141-146, 2007