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Microwave and Millimeter wave Processing of Polymer-Derived Silicon Nitride

  • S. T. Schwab (a1), S. F. Timmons (a1), C. R. Blanchard (a1), M. D. Grimes (a1), R. C. Graef (a1), J. D. Katz (a2), D. E. Rees (a2) and T. W. Hardek (a2)...

Abstract

Chemical methods of processing ceramics have the potential to overcome many of the processing-related obstacles that have hindered widespread commercialization. The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has focused on the development of polymeric precursors to silicon nitride (Si3N4). One such precursor, perhydropolysilazane (or PHPS), has been shown to be a useful binder for Si3N4 powder processing, a useful matrix precursor for the polymer infiltration/pyrolysis (PIP) processing of fiber-reinforced Si3N4, and a useful ceramic coating precursor for the repair of oxidation protection coatings on carbon-carbon composites. While conventional, thermal pyrolyses of these preceramnics has been sufficient to demonstrate their potential, substantial cost savings could be realized if the polymer-to-ceramic conversion could be instigated with electromagnetic energy. We have investigated the use of millimeter wave heating as a means of converting PHPS into Si3N4, and report here the results of our efforts to produce bulk compacts, coatings, and fiber-reinforced ceramics.

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