Metal/Ceramic Composites via Infiltration of an Interconnected Wood-Derived CeramicPublic Deposited
The use of composites is increasing as they afford scientists and engineers the ability to combine the advantageous properties of each constituent phase, e.g. metal ductility and ceramic stiffness. With respect to materials design, biomimetics is garnering increasing attention due to the complex, yet efficient, natural microstructures. One such biomimetic, or in this case 'bio-derived,' curiosity is wood-derived ceramic, which is made by either replicating or converting wood into a ceramic. The resulting porous and anisotropic material retains the precursor microstructure. The wide variety of precursors can yield materials with a range of pore sizes and distribution of pores. The purpose of this work was to study the processing, microstructure, and properties of aluminum/silicon carbide composites. The composites were made by infiltrating molten aluminum into porous wood-derived SiC, which was produced by the reactive melt-infiltration of silicon into pyrolyzed wood. The composite microstructure consisted of interconnected SiC surrounding Al-alloy 'fibers.' The strength, modulus, and toughness were measured in both longitudinal and transverse orientations. The Al → SiC load transfer was investigated with high-energy X-ray diffraction in combination with <em>in-situ</em> compressive loading. The properties in flexure were found to decrease with increasing temperature. Despite the complex microstructure, predictions of the composite flexural modulus and longitudinal fracture toughness were obtained using simple models: Halpin-Tsai bounds and the Ashby <em>et al.</em> model of the effect of ductile particle-reinforcements on the toughness of brittle materials (Ashby <em>et al.</em> 1989), respectively. In addition, the Al/SiC research inspired the investigation of carbon-reinforced copper composites. The goal was to explore the feasibility of making a high-thermal conductivity composite by infiltrating copper into wood-derived carbon. Results indicated that Cu/C composites could be made with pressurized infiltration, but the predicted thermal conductivity was low due to the amorphous wood-derived carbon.