Articles written in Sadhana
Volume 37 Issue 4 August 2012 pp 493-502
The aim of the present work centers on synthesizing and characterizing carbon ﬁbre (Cf) reinforced, silicon carbide matrix composites which are considered to have potential applications in aerospace and automobile industry. A series of composites, namely the Cf-SiC, Cf-(SiC+ZrC), Cf-(SiC+ZrB2), and Cf-(SiC+ZrO2), have been prepared by a proposed soft-solution approach. This approach involves the use of water-soluble precursors of colloidal silica, sucrose, zirconium oxychloride, and boric acid as sources of silica, carbon, zirconia, and boron oxide, respectively to achieve the desired matrices through drying, carbonization and carbothermal reduction. The prepared powders and the composites were characterized by thermal analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD), optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analyses to assess the phase formation and microstructure of the materials, apart from assessment of their tensile properties. The study shows that the soft-solution process yields matrices with ﬁner crystallite sizes, having homogeneous distribution of the constituent phases of either the powders or of the composite matrices. The role of the additional phases on the tensile properties of the composites has been discussed using consideration of thermal stresses at ﬁbre-matrix interface; whereas the role of the carbothermal reduction temperature in determining these properties has been explained using the interfacial characteristics of the ﬁbre-matrix. Addition of ZrO2 in the matrix of SiC has shown to improve the properties of Cf-SiC composites considerably. The results of this investigation unambiguously demonstrate that aqueous solution-based processing can be used for fabrication of these composites in relatively shorter time in an environmental friendly manner without using any expensive equipment. The approach is capable of yielding composites with different phases in the matrix by simple variation of precursor materials and solutions. The small crystallite sizes, ﬁne particle distribution and low carbothermal reduction temperatures are some of the speciﬁc merits of the proposed method.