Low temperature synthesis and spark plasma sintering of a boron carbide with a low residual carbon content

Jonathan Kenny*, Nikkia McDonald, Jon Binner, Isaac Tsz Hong Chang, Sylvain Marinel

*Corresponding author for this work

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Using spark plasma sintering (SPS), >98.5 % dense boron carbide (B4C) samples were made from commercially available and lab-synthesised powders made via a low temperature synthesis (LTS) process. The work showed that the LTS powder can be produced in batches of tens to hundreds of grams whilst maintaining a high purity material with lower levels of residual free carbon (20.6–21.3 wt.% C) than commercially available samples (22.4 wt.% C). The LTS material was seen to exhibit higher hardness values (37.8 GPa) than the commercial grade material (32.5 GPa) despite featuring a coarser average grain size (10.8 μm and 2.4 μm respectively). This is largely thought to be due to the influence of ZrO2 and AlB2 impurities introduced to the material during micronising milling of the powder after synthesis, as opposed to the influence of the materials lower carbon content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-391
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the European Ceramic Society
Issue number2
Early online date13 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Professor Peter M. Brown (formerly DSTL) and François Barthelemy (DGA) for the project funding through the UK-France PhD scheme (grant no: DSTLX- 1000092033 ), as well as to Dr. Jethro Beamish Cook at the University of Reading for providing assistance with the PQA analysis of the B 4 C samples.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Boron carbide
  • Low temperature synthesis
  • Spark plasma sintering (SPS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Materials Chemistry


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