Processing, mechanical and optical properties of additive-free ZrC ceramics prepared by Spark Plasma Sintering
AbstractIn the present study, nearly fully dense monolithic ZrC samples are produced and broadly characterized from microstructural, mechanical and optical points of view. Specifically, 98% dense products are obtained by Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) after 20 min dwell time at 1850 °C starting from powders preliminarily prepared by Self-propagating High-temperature Synthesis (SHS) followed by 20 min ball milling. A prolonged mechanical treatment up to 2 h of SHS powders does not lead to appreciable benefits. Vickers hardness of the resulting samples (17.5 ± 0.4 GPa) is reasonably good for monolithic ceramics, but the mechanical strength (about 250 MPa up to 1000 °C) could be further improved by suitable optimization of the starting powder characteristics. The very smoothly polished ZrC specimen subjected to optical measurements displays high absorption in the visible-near infrared region and low thermal emittance at longer wavelengths. Moreover, the sample exhibits goodspectral selectivity (2.1-2.4) in the 1000-1400 K temperature range. These preliminary results suggest that ZrC ceramics produced through the two-step SHS/SPS processing route can be considered as attractive reference materials for the development of innovative solar energy absorbers.
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