Elusive super-hard B6C accessible through the laser-floating zone method
Malmal Moshtaghioun, Bibi; Cumbrera, Francisco L.; Gomez-Garcia, Diego; Pena, Jose I.
Boron carbide is among the most promising ceramic materials nowadays: their mechanical properties are outstanding, and they open potential critical applications in near future. Since sinterability is the most critical drawback to this goal, innovative and competitive sintering procedures are attractive research topics in the science and technology of this carbide. This work reports the pioneer use of the laser-floating zone technique with this carbide. Crystallographic, microstructural and mechanical characterization of the so-prepared samples is carefully analysed. One unexpected output is the fabrication of a B6C composite when critical conditions of growth rate are adopted. Since this is one of the hardest materials in Nature and it is achievable only under extremely high pressures and temperatures in hot-pressing, the use of this technique offers a promising alternative for the fabrication. Hardness and elastic modulus of this material reached to 52 GPa and 600 GPa respectively, which is close to theoretical predictions reported in literature.
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