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Title: An investigation into the relationship between thermal shock resistance and ballistic performance of ceramic materials
Author: Beaumont, Robert M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 6173
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Currently, there are no reliable methods for screening potential armour materials and hence full-scale ballistic trials are needed. These are both costly and time-consuming in terms of the actual test and also in the materials development that needs to take place to produce sufficient material to give a meaningful result. Whilst it will not be possible to dispense with ballistic trials before material deployment in armour applications, the ability to shorten the development cycle would be advantageous. The thermal shock performance of ceramic armour materials has been highlighted as potential marker for ballistic performance. Hence the purpose of this study was to investigate this further. A new thermal shock technique that reproduced features relevant to ballistic testing was sought. As it would be beneficial to have a simple test that did not use much material, a water-drop method was adopted. This was combined with a variety of characterisation techniques, administered pre- and post-shock. The methods included measurement of the amplitude of ultrasonic wave transmission through the sample alongside residual strength testing using a biaxial ball-on-ball configuration and reflected light and confocal microscopy. Once the protocols had been refined the testing regime was applied to a group of ceramic materials. The materials selected were from two broad groups: alumina and carbide materials. Carbide ceramics show superior performance to alumina ceramics in ballistic applications so it was essential that any screening test would be easily able to differentiate the two groups. Within the alumina family, two commercially available materials, AD995 and Sintox FA, were selected. These were tested alongside three developmental silicon carbide-boron carbide composites, which had identical chemical compositions but different microstructures and thus presented more of a challenge in terms of differentiation. The results from the various tests were used to make predictions about the relative ballistic performances. The tests showed that all of the composites would outperform the alumina materials. Further, all of the tests led to the prediction that AD995 would be better ballistically than Sintox FA, possibly up to a factor of two better. The predictions were in very good agreement with literature values for depth-of-penetration testing. The situation was more complex for the carbide materials, with different tests leading to slightly different predictions. However, the predictions from the ultrasonic tests were consistent with the available ballistic data. Indeed, the ultrasonic data proved to be the most consistent predictor of ballistic performance, supporting the view that the total defect population is more relevant than a ‘critical flaw’ concept. Thus, it can be concluded that with further development, and subject to validation across a wider spread of materials and microstructures, thermal shock testing coupled with ultrasonic measurements could form the basis of a future screening test for ceramics for armour applications.
Supervisor: Yeomans, J. A. Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available