Mechanical behavior of a ceramic matrix composite material

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Virginia Tech

Monolithic ceramic materials have been used in industry for hundreds of years. These materials have proven their usefulness in many applications, yet, their potential for critical structural applications is limited. The existence of an imperfection in a monolithic ceramic on the order of several microns in size may be critical, resulting in catastrophic failure. To overcome this extreme sensitivity to sman material imperfections, reinforced ceramic materials have been developed. A ceramic matrix which has been reinforced with continuous fibers is not only less sensitive to microscopic flaws, but is also able to sustain significant damage without suffering catastrophic failure.

A borosilicate glass reinforced with several layers of plain weave silicon carbide cloth (Nicalon) has been studied. The mechanical testing which was performed included both flexural and tensile loading configurations. This testing was done not only to determine the material properties, but also to initiate a controlled amount of damage within each specimen.

Several nondestructive testing techniques, including acousto-ultrasonics (AU), were performed on the specimens periodically during testing. The AU signals were monitored through the use of an IBM compatible personal computer with a high speed data acquisition board. Software has been written which manipulates the AU signals in both the time and frequency domains, resulting in quantitative measures of the mechanical response of the material.

This paper will compare the measured AU parameters to both the mechanical test results and data from other nondestructive methods including ultrasonic C-scans and penetrant enhanced X-ray radiography.