Synthesis and Characterization of Ultra High Temperature Ceramic Composites for Hypersonic Vehicle Application

Future demands of hypersonic vehicles and advanced propulsion components call for lightweight materials that can withstand extreme environments. Sharp leading edges in hypersonic vehicles experience intense aerothermal heating and shock loads that only a few materials can survive. Zirconium diboride ceramic composites are known to withstand such rigorous high temperature oxidation conditions and provide good ablation resistance and superior dimensional stability. However, there is limited literature on their processibility, stoichiometry, thermo-mechanical behavior, vibrational characteristics and impact resistance. The current proposal intends to address these issues and describes a collaborative research effort between University of Central Florida (UCF) and University of Florida (UF) along with two industrial partners (MMI and Exotherm Corporation) to develop a large database on ultra high temperature zirconium boride-silicon carbide (ZrBx-SiC) ceramic composites. Using combinatorial methods and a rapid processing technique we will produce a broad range of ZrBx-SiC ceramic composites and characterize their mechanical and thermal properties at a range of temperatures and strain rates. High throughput analytical methods such as Raman spectroscopy will be used to investigate the vibrational and structural characteristics, residual stresses, and their impact on the resulting mechanical properties. We will also evaluate their impact and abrasion resistance using novel experimental methods.