In Situ Synthesis of Ultrafine ZrB2–SiC Composite Powders and the Pressureless Sintering Behaviors


  • N. Padture—contributing editor

  • This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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Ultrafine ZrB2–SiC composite powders have been synthesized in situ using carbothermal reduction reactions via the sol–gel method at 1500°C for 1 h. The powders synthesized had a relatively smaller average crystallite size (<200 nm), a larger specific surface area (∼20 m2/g), and a lower oxygen content (∼1.0 wt %). Composites of ZrB2+20 wt% SiC were pressureless sintered to ∼96.6% theoretical density at 2250°C for 2 h under an argon atmosphere using B4C and Mo as sintering aids. Vickers hardness and flexural strength of the sintered ceramic composites were 13.9±0.3 GPa and 294±14 MPa, respectively. The microstructure of the composites revealed that elongated SiC grain dispersed uniformly in the ZrB2 matrix. Oxidation from 1100° to 1600°C for 30 min showed no decrease in strength below 1400°C but considerable decrease in strength with a rapid weight increment was observed above 1500°C. The formation of a protective borosilicate glassy coating appeared at 1400°C and was gradually destroyed in the form of bubble at higher temperatures.