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Ceramic Matrix Composites: Fiber Reinforced Ceramics and their Applications

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Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) represent a relatively new class of quasiductile ceramic materials. They are characterized by carbon or ceramic fi bers embedded in ceramic matrices (oxide or non - oxide) with comparatively low bonding forces between the fi bers and the matrix. These weak intefaces, in combination with a porous and/or microcracked matrix, result in composite materials which differ from all other structural materials or composites and show some outstanding properties. Their strain - to - failure is up to one order of magnitude higher than in monolithic ceramics and their low densities result in mass - specifi c properties which are unsurpassed by any other structural material beyond 1000 ° C.

From their research beginnings about 40 years ago, the demands of space technology played the decisive role in the development of CMCs. Hot structures of limited lifetime (e.g. thermal protection systems, nozzles) in aerospace and military applications have been developed in different countries. In recent years, civil and terrestrial requirements became the driving forces and properties and manufacturing processes were consistently improved to transfer CMCs from niche applications to broader markets. Due to their high thermal stability and good corrosion and wear resistance, these composite materials are of increasing interest for long - term applications and damage - tolerant structures in different industrial sectors like ground transportation (e.g. brake and clutch systems), mechanical engineering (e.g. bearings, ballistic protections), and power generation (e.g. burners, heat exchangers).

The goals of further research and development are focused on improvements in the thermal and oxidative stability of the reinforcing fi bers and on a considerable reduction of the processing costs. Reasonable costs for series productions are expected by using innovative continuously operated furnaces as they already exist for other structural (monolithic) ceramics. Also, new forming processes for the manufacture of green bodies and new hybrid processes of high reliability are necessary. Beside these fabrication approaches, novel precursors for cheaper ceramic fi bers and improvements in the thermomechanical properties of short - fi ber reinforced CMCs are key factors to develop CMC materials for wider application.
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