Transformation Toughening in Zirconia-Containing Ceramics


  • A. H. Heuer—contributing editor


The recognition of the potential for enhanced fracture toughness that can be derived from controlled, stress-activated tetragonal (t) to monoclinic (m) transformation in ZrO2-based ceramics ushered in a new era in the development of the mechanical properties of engineering ceramics and provided a major impetus for broader-ranging research into the toughening mechanisms available to enhance the fracture properties of brittle-matrix materials. ZrO2-based systems have remained a major focal point for research as developments in understanding of the crystallography of the tm transformation have led to more-complete descriptions of the origins of transformation toughening and definition of the features required of a transformation-toughening system. In parallel, there have been significant advances in the design and control of microstructure required to optimize mechanical properties in materials developed commercially. This review concentrates on the science of the tm transformation in ZrO2 and its application in the modeling of transformation-toughening behavior, while also summarizing the microstructural control needed to use the benefits in ZrO2-toughened ceramics.