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To improve the dispersion of silicon nitride whiskers in aqueous suspensions, a standard dispersant used in glass fiber industry, 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane (APS) is added. It was found that the viscosity of the whisker suspensions is lowered and the centrifuged density of the suspensions is increased with the addition of the APS. The pH values of suspensions before and after the addition of APS indicate that APS extracts H+ ions from the solutions and the adsorption of APS on silicon nitride is saturated in our experiment. Our results indicate a colloidal route to the processing of ceramic composites with silicon nitride whiskers as reinforcements.
To improve the processing of silicon nitride, boehmite and yttrium oxide were coated on silicon nitride particles by an aqueous sol-gel method. It is shown that boehmite and Y2O3 can be coated on Si3N4 particles from aqueous solutions. However, the Y2O3 coating is not as complete as boehmite coating. The coating of a yttria coating followed by a boehmite coating was attempted and the TEM showed a coating twice as thick as the Y2O3 or AlOOH coating. Hydrothermal treatment of yttrium nitrate hydrous hydroxide results in the formation and growth of Y(OH)3 fibers which can be calcined and transformed into Y2O3 fibers at 500°C.
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