Si3N4–SiC composites have been microwave sintered using 𝛽-Si3N4 and 𝛽-SiC as starting materials. Si3N4 rich compositions (95 and 90 vol.% Si3N4) have been sintered above 96% of theoretical density without using any sintering additives in 40 min. A monotonic decrease in relative density is observed with increase in SiC proportion in the composite. Decrease in relative density has manifested in the reduction of fracture toughness and microhardness values of the composite with increase in SiC content although the good sintering of matrix Si3N4 limits the decrease of fracture toughness. Highest value of fracture toughness of 6.1 MPa m1/2 is observed in 10 vol.% SiC composite. Crack propagation appears to be transgranular in the Si3N4 matrix and the toughening of the composites is through crack deflection around hard SiC particles in addition to its debonding from the matrix.
Volume 43, 2020
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