Transparent Armor Ceramics as Spacecraft Windows


  • Presented in part at 35th International Conference & Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites, January 24, 2011.

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The slow crack growth parameters of several transparent armor ceramics were measured as part of a program to lighten next generation spacecraft windows. Transparent magnesium aluminate (spinel, MgAl2O4) and AlON exhibit superior slow crack resistance relative to fused silica, which is the historical material of choice. For spinel, slow crack growth, strength, and fracture toughness are significantly influenced by the grain size, and alumina-rich phases and porosity at the grain boundaries lead to intergranular fracture in coarse grain spinel. Functions describing the required mass for a desired window life imply that transparent ceramics can lighten window panes from a slow crack growth perspective.