IAM - Ceramic Materials and Technologies

Rare earth containing sialons: Microstructure, mechanical and tribological properties

  • Author:

    Holzer, S.; Hantsche, J. P.; Spicher, U.; Huchler, B.; Nagel, A.; Oberacker, R.; Badenheim, D.; Hoffmann, M. J.

  • Source:

    ADVANCED SI-BASED CERAMICS AND COMPOSITES 287 (2005), 282–292 

  • Rare earth containing sialons: Microstructure, mechanical and tribological properties.

Abstract

Silicon nitride based ceramics have been investigated since more than forty years. Nevertheless, a good understanding of the microstructure-properties relationships on the level of small samples is not enough to bring ceramic parts into the industrial market. More convincing is a demonstration of the excellent potential in specific applications where the requirements of a more complex system are considered. In this work, sialons are investigated for a use in lubricated wear applications. The target system is a fuel injection pump for pressures up to 30 MPa. It requires very small friction coefficients and wear rates. Isooctane was used as lubricating liquid. A friction coefficient of 0.3 has been achieved with a piston-on-plate configuration for two sialon ceramics with different α/β-ratios. The sample surfaces were in a ground condition. For comparison, tribological testing was also performed with commercial alumina and silicon nitride materials which exhibited higher friction coefficients. In order to be closer to the real conditions a test rig has been designed and constructed with a piston running in a cylinder that actually pumps isooctane at the desired pressures of up to 30 MPa. With it, the high potential of sialon ceramics for lubricated sliding applications was proven. In the fields of microstructural design neodymia and ytterbia containing sialons with varying α/β-sialon ratios and different amounts of additives have been investigated. These parameters have a strong effect on the achieved aspect ratios of the sialon grains which can be correlated to the amount of liquid phase during sintering, kinetic considerations and the additives' cationic radii. Finally, the effect of these varying grain shapes on the mechanical properties hardness and fracture toughness has been determined.