Evaluating microstructural and damage effects in rule-of-mixtures predictions of the mechanical properties of Ni-Al2O3 composites

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Ni-Al2O3 composites containing 0 to 100 vol % Ni were fabricated using powder processing techniques. By varying the metal: ceramic particle size ratio, either particle-reinforced or interpenetrating-phase microstructures were obtained. The mechanical properties of the composites were characterized and compared with rule-of-mixtures (ROM) predictions. For certain particle-reinforced composites, the elastic moduli measured ultrasonically did not obey the ROM. This result was attributed to the presence of damage that could be accounted for using existing models. In four-point bending, most composites exhibited linear elastic behavior, however significant inelastic deformation was observed for composites containing 60 and 80 vol % Ni. The inelastic deformation was reasonably well described using ROM models, except when substantial damage was present. Damaged materials were modeled as two phase composites containing one damage-free phase and one completely damaged phase that was assumed to behave like a porous material. The failure strains of composites with continuous ceramic phases were explained using a semi-empirical model that included both damage and residual stress effects. Fracture stresses were calculated from predicted fracture strains using a new ROM deformation model. The model was modified to include constraint effects in order to accurately describe the deformation behavior of the ductile continuous-ceramic composites.

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