Role of carbon nanotube dispersion in fracture toughening of plasma sprayed aluminum oxide-carbon nanotube nanocomposite coating

Kantesh Balani, Florida International University


Aluminum oxide (Al2O3, or alumina) is a conventional ceramic known for applications such as wear resistant coatings, thermal liners, heaters, crucibles, dielectric systems, etc. However applications of Al 2O3 are limited owing to its inherent brittleness. Due to its excellent mechanical properties and bending strength, carbon nanotubes (CNT) is an ideal reinforcement for Al2O3 matrix to improve its fracture toughness. The role of CNT dispersion in the fracture toughening of the plasma sprayed Al2O3-CNT nanocomposite coating is discussed in the current work. Pretreatment of powder feedstock is required for dispersing CNTs in the matrix. Four coatings namely spray dried Al2O 3 (A-SD), Al2O3 blended with 4wt.% CNT (A4C-B), composite spray dried Al2O3-4wt.% CNT (A4C-SD) and composite spray dried A1203-8wt.% CNT (A8C-SD), are synthesized by plasma spraying. Owing to extreme temperatures and velocities involved in the plasma spraying of ceramics, retention of CNTs in the resulting coatings necessitates optimizing plasma processing parameters using an inflight particle diagnostic sensor. A bimodal microstructure was obtained in the matrix that consists of fully melted and resolidified structure and solid state sintered structure. CNTs are retained both in the fully melted region and solid-state sintered regions of processed coatings. Fracture toughness of A-SD, A4C-B, A4C-SD and A8C-SD coatings was 3.22, 3.86, 4.60 and 5.04 MPa m1/2 respectively. This affirms the improvement of fracture toughness from 20% (in A4C-B coating) to 43% (in A4C-SD coating) when compared to the A-SD coating because of the CNT dispersion. Fracture toughness improvement from 43% (in A4C-SD) to 57% (in A8C-SD) coating is evinced because of the CNT content. Reinforcement by CNTs is described by its bridging, anchoring, hook formation, impact alignment, fusion with splat, and mesh formation. The Al2O3/CNT interface is critical in assisting the stress transfer and utilizing excellent mechanical properties of CNTs. Mathematical and computational modeling using ab-initio principle is applied to understand the wetting behavior at the Al2O 3/CNT interface. Contrasting storage modulus was obtained by nanoindentation (∼210, 250, 250-350 and 325-420 GPa in A-SD, A4C-B, A4C-SD, and A8C-SD coatings respectively) depicting the toughening associated with CNT content and dispersion.

Subject Area

Materials science

Recommended Citation

Balani, Kantesh, "Role of carbon nanotube dispersion in fracture toughening of plasma sprayed aluminum oxide-carbon nanotube nanocomposite coating" (2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3279242.