Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 January 2011
Al/Al2O3 composites were fabricated by a displacement reaction between SiO2 and molten Al. In this study, fabrication of Al/Al2O3 composites was attempted by means of reactive infiltration to provide variation of their mechanical properties. SiO2 preforms having various porosities and pore size distributions were prepared by sintering the powder at different temperatures between 1273 and 1723 K. Molten Al was infiltrated at 1373 K without application of pressure. Infiltration kinetics were studied and the microstructures of the composite bodies were observed by means of scanning electron microscopy (with energy dispersive x-ray microanalysis), wave dispersive x-ray microanalysis, and x-ray diffractions. The infiltrated specimens were mainly composed of Al and α–Al2O3 phases, and the Si content was less than 5 at.%. Volume fraction of Al phase in the composite bodies was not altered very much with the porosities of the SiO2 preforms because of the difficulty in filling out the entire pore space. Properties and microstructures of Al/Al2O3 composites, however, were dependent on the sintering temperature of the SiO2 preforms. In the case of low sintering temperature, a thick Al channel existed, which deformed upon compression. In the case of high sintering temperature, the microstructure became homogeneous and had thinner Al channels. The composite bodies became brittle. The deformation behavior was shown to be changed from ductile to brittle as an increase of the sintering temperature of the preforms.
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