Mechanical Property Mapping of Ceramics

Hardness map of transformation toughened zirconia (TTZ)

Hardness map of transformation toughened zirconia (TTZ)

Ceramic applications often require determination of mechanical properties on an as-manufactured part. Automated indentation, also referred to as instrumented indentation or nanoindentation, provides hardness data at smaller scales than traditional microhardness. The volume distribution of ceramic phases affects microstructure which in turn affects mechanical properties. Indentation at smaller length scales reveals the indentation size effect phenomenon, indicating higher strength for crystalline materials. The bulk measurements are influenced by the mechanical properties from each phase of a ceramic material, as determined by nanoindentation.

Standard and advanced indentation methods were used to measure the mechanical properties of two common ceramic materials: single-crystal alumina (Al2O3) and polished CoorsTek toughened zirconia (TTZ). Load-displacement curves (below) were used to calculate Young’s modulus, hardness and Vickers hardness. The results are influenced by the anisotropic nature of the ceramic materials due to the small length scale.

 Load-displacement curves for standard indentation measurements into alumina (green) and TTZ (blue)

Load-displacement curves for standard indentation measurements into alumina (green) and TTZ (blue)

The maps of Young’s modulus and hardness give unprecedented insight into the microstructure of TTZ. These quantitative images are far more valuable for understanding and predicting the mechanical behavior of TTZ than what might be achieved with bulk testing methods (tension, compression, microhardness, etc).

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iMicro Nanoindenter
iMicro Nanoindenter

High load nanoindentation and microhardness testing

iNano Nanoindenter
iNano Nanoindenter

Fast, accurate and easy to use with up to 50 mN of force