Ceramic Composite Design to Increase Toughness (26164)

The invention is a ceramic composite design that mimics features of Mother of Pearl (“Nacre”) in order to increase ceramic toughness. Ceramic materials have many attractive engineering qualities such as stiffness, hardness, wear resistance, and resistance to high temperatures. The primary obstacle to a wider use of ceramics in engineering applications is their brittleness. The invention consists of 95% or more of ceramic material, yet is capable of deformation strains in excess of 10%. Also, the design is such that rather than failing at one location, damage is distributed over large volumes of material – improving the ability to resist, and even stop crack propagation.

The invention retains the attractive properties of ceramic composites, but is 5-10 times tougher than the same material in “bulk” form. This level far surpasses increases reported by prior art that also attempts to mimic Nacre. The invention achieves this competitive advantage by exploiting discoveries by the inventors concerning certain Nacre features as reported in the publication “An Experimental Investigation of Deformation and Fracture of Nacre–Mother of Pearl,” Experimental Mechanics (2007) 47:311–324.

RESULTS: A model has predicted that the composite of this invention is softer than bulk ceramic, 50% as strong as bulk ceramic, but that it is 5 to 10 times tougher than bulk ceramic.

Inventor(s): Horacio Espinosa, Francois Barthelat

Type of Offer: Licensing

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