Mines researchers discover method to develop tough ceramics
GOLDEN, Colo., Feb. 6, 2008 – Colorado School of Mines researchers recently discovered a unique material behavior that could lead to the development of tougher ceramic composites.
The key ingredient in the ceramic is a lithium aluminum silicate called beta-eucryptite, a strange material that has a negative coefficient of thermal expansion. Mines researchers believe a high compressive stress, such as that experienced under an indenter (a device used to measure hardness), stimulates a phase transformation to a denser ceramic phase. The reverse phase transformation in the presence of a crack would effectively shut the crack before it could propagate through the composite. Such a process is well-established for another ceramic, zirconia, but has never been realized for other ceramics.
To better understand the phenomenon, Mines researchers are working with collaborators at the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
Karen Gilbert, Public Relations Specialist
303-273-3541 / Karen.Gilbert@is.mines.edu
Marsha Williams, Director of Integrated Marketing Communications
303-273-3326 / firstname.lastname@example.org