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The evolution of damage in ceramic matrix composites


Walter, Mark E. (1996) The evolution of damage in ceramic matrix composites. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/w4b4-dx66.


In an effort to better understand the evolution of damage in brittle matrix composites, the mechanical behavior of a ceramic matrix composite, unidirectional SiC/CAS (SiC fibers reinforcing a calcium aluminosilicate matrix), was studied. The presented results are based on uniaxial tension experiments for specimens with the fibers aligned in the loading direction. Post-test optical and scanning electron microscopy was also used to identify the various micromechanisms of damage; axial and transverse strain gauges on all four gage section surfaces and in situ acoustic emission and ultrasonic wave speed measurements were used to monitor the evolution of damage. The experimental results demonstrate the existence of "zones of deformation" which are associated with the onset of different damage mechanisms. The energy dissipated in each of these zones was calculated. It is shown that the observed stress-strain behavior can be qualitatively explained in terms of the material properties of the matrix and the fiber, the material processing, and the postulated zones of deformation. The experimental results for SiC/CAS were compared with an existing shear-lag model, and the shortcomings of the model are discussed. By approximating matrix cracks as penny shaped cracks, a micromechanical model was used to estimate the change in the axial modulus of the composite. These results also present another way to interpret the acoustic emission data. The evolution of damage in the SiC/CAS experiments was found to be strain rate dependent even within the quasi-static strain rate regime. For higher rate experiments, the transition from elastic to matrix cracked occurred at a stress level that was nearly twice that of the same transition in the lower rate experiments. This phenomenon and the mechanisms which cause it was further investigated with a model material system (a brittle epoxy resin sandwiched between aluminum strips). In situ quantification of the stress during damage initiation and propagation was realized by the optical method of Coherent Gradient Sensing. Based on these results, the reasons for strain rate dependence of the composite are postulated. Detailed understanding of aspects of the evolution of in brittle matrix composites was achieved with finite element simulations. This modeling was based on an axisymmetric unit cell composed of a fiber and its surrounding matrix. The unit cell was discretized into linearly elastic elements for the fiber and the matrix and cohesive elements which allow cracking in the matrix, fiber-matrix interface, and fiber. The cohesive elements failed according to critical stress and critical energy release rate criteria (in shear and/or in tension). After failing, the cohesive elements could slide with Coulomb friction. The tension and shear aspects of failure were uncoupled. The cohesive elements were used to simulate a Dugdale penny shaped crack in a homogeneous cylinder; results compared well to the analytical solution. In order to solve the composite axisymmetric unit cell problem, inertia and viscous damping were added to the formulation. The resulting dynamic problem was solved implicitly using the Newmark Method. Results were compared to the experiment by assuming that only a given number of unit cells were active at any point during the simulation. The effects of changing material properties (e.g., interface strength and toughness and matrix toughness) and loading rate are discussed. Several aspects of the experimentally observed material response of SiC/CAS composite were reproduced by the numerical simulations.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:ceramic matrix composites
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Mechanics
Awards:William F. Ballhaus Prize, 1996
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
Thesis Committee:
  • Knowles, James K. (chair)
  • Rosakis, Ares J.
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
  • Hall, John F.
  • Ortiz, Michael
  • Knauss, Wolfgang Gustav
Defense Date:26 September 1995
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-01072008-112449
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:58
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:25 Jan 2008
Last Modified:16 Apr 2021 22:23

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