Effect of zirconia particle size distribution on the toughness of zirconia-containing ceramics

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The zirconia particles in zirconia-containing ceramics have a size distribution similar to Gaussian distribution. The spontaneously martensitic start temperature (Ms) of different particles are not the same. The larger the particle, the higher its Ms. On cooling from high temperature to a value lower than the macro Ms of the materials, the stress-induced and spontaneous transformation will happen, so that the toughness of the materials increases at first, then gradually drops to a value slightly higher than that of the matrix. The size distribution plays an important role in affecting the toughness of the materials. When the average particle size increases, the maximum toughening (ΔKc)max and the temperature (Tmax) at which (ΔKc)max happens will all increase. The toughness at given temperature will increase at first and then drop also to a value slightly higher than that of matrix with increasing of average particle size. The stronger concentration of the size distribution, the higher (ΔKc)max will be. The weaker concentration for size distribution (either the range of zirconia particle sizes becomes wider or the scale parameter of the distribution increases), the lower (ΔKc)max, but the range of temperature in which the toughness is larger than certain value will become wider. Some suggestions of designing ceramics with high toughness at different temperatures are given.

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