Ceramics and ceramic composites are now used in almost all areas of technology.
Consequently, it is becoming increasingly important to study polished sections of
these materials in industrial laboratories by means of optical microscopes and scanning
electron microscopes. In some cases, the experience required for the preparation
of pohshed sections is lacking, or preparation steps typically used with metals are
unsuccessfully apphed to these materials. Chapter 2 therefore presents fundamental
information on preparing pohshed sections of ceramics and ceramic composites. This
information encompasses the main steps of samphng, sectioning, mounting and impregnation,
and mechanical grinding, lapping and poUshing.
In past experience, the use of diamond products has been preferred for the sectioning
and abrasive processing of ceramics and ceramic composites. The use of
automated grinding, lapping, and poUshing machines makes it possible to obtain a
uniformly high degree of section quaUty with reproducible results. In cases of lowvolume
sample throughput, manual preparation of polished sections can also produce
quite useful results.
Chapter 3 discusses microstructural imaging in the optical microscope (OM) and the
use of the scanning electron microscope (SEM). After a section of a ceramic or a ceramic
composite has undergone final poUshing, it must be subjected to etching or contrast
enhancement in order to reveal its microstructure. This practice is similar to the study of
metal specimens. Chapter 4 presents material-specific preparation procedures for polished
sections. These procedures take into account the properties of the ceramic or
composite being examined and the purpose of the examination. These procedures have
proven to be very suitable for the respective materials and are effective for reveaUng the
pores. The examples presented here for ceramics and ceramic composites provide polished
sections of good to exceUent quaUty for routine examination under the optical
microscope. They include tips for etching and contrast enhancement, as weU as microstructural
images. Chapter 5 discusses the preparation of polished sections for purposes
of examination and contains information on producing obUque sections and controlled
removal of material. It also addresses the production of thin sections.
As a complement to the examination of the microstructure, chapter 6 provides
insight into the evaluation of hardness testing indentations. Chapter 7 concludes this
work with an overview of the technical Uterature.