Merging toughness and oxidation resistance in a light ZrB2 composite

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External organisations

  • CNR-ISTEC, National Research Council of Italy - Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics


A functionally graded composite based on ZrB2 and 0–50 vol% of short carbon fibres was prepared via a deliberately simple approach that involved creating a suitable stacking sequence of layers with different sintering agents and fibre contents. This led to an excellent combination of failure tolerance and oxidation resistance in a light material with a density below that of alumina. The graded architecture outperformed other related composites when tested at 1500 °C and, separately, achieved a toughness of 10 MPa m½. In addition, the composite withstood the ablation effect of an oxyacetylene torch at 2500 °C, undergoing minimal recession. Moreover, the true nature of the “tubular” zirconium oxide formed upon oxidation at extreme temperatures is reported for the first time. The functionally graded concept applied to a ultra-refractory matrix seems to be a promising route to obtain even complex shaped components with functional symmetry for use in severe environments.


Original languageEnglish
Article number108078
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalMaterials and Design
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2019


  • Ablation resistance, C fibre, Fracture toughness, Functionally graded composite, ZrB2