During tensile creep of a hot isostatically pressed (HIPed) silicon nitride, the volume fraction of cavities increases linearly with strain; these cavities produce nearly all of the measured strain. In contrast, compressive creep in the same stress and temperature range produces very little cavitation. A stress exponent that increases with stress (epsilon proportional to sigma '', 2 < n < 7) characterizes the tensile creep response, while the compressive creep response exhibits a stress dependence of unity. Furthermore, under the same stress and temperature, the material creeps nearly 100 times faster in tension than in compression. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) indicates that the cavities formed during tensile creep occur in pockets of residual crystalline silicate phase located at silicon nitride multigrain junctions. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) from crept material quantifies the size distribution of cavities observed in TEM and demonstrates that cavity addition, rather than cavity growth, dominates the cavitation process. These observations are in accord with a model for creep based on the deformation of granular materials in which the microstructure must dilate for individual grains to slide past one another. During tensile creep the silicon nitride grains remain rigid; cavitation in the multigrain junctions allows the silicate to flow from cavities to surrounding silicate pockets, allowing the dilatation of the microstructure and deformation of the material. Silicon nitride grain boundary sliding accommodates this expansion and leads to extension of the specimen. In compression, where cavitation is suppressed, deformation occurs by solution-reprecipitation of silicon nitride.
Citation: Journal of the American Ceramic Society
Pub Type: Journals
silicon nitride, creep, cavitation