From a disruptive perspective, silicon carbide (SiC)-based ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) provide a considerable temperature and weight advantage over existing material systems and are increasingly finding application in aerospace, power generation and high-end automotive industries. The complex structural architecture and inherent processing artefacts within CMCs combine to induce inhomogeneous deformation and damage prior to ultimate failure. Sophisticated mechanical characterisation is vital in support of a fundamental understanding of deformation in CMCs. On the component scale, “damage tolerant” design and lifing philosophies depend upon laboratory assessments of macro-scale specimens, incorporating typical fibre architectures and matrix under representative stress-strain states. This is important if CMCs are to be utilised to their full potential within industrial applications. Bulk measurements of strain via extensometry or even localised strain gauging would fail to characterise the ensuing inhomogeneity when performing conventional mechanical testing on laboratory scaled coupons. The current research has, therefore, applied digital image correlation (DIC), electrical resistance monitoring and acoustic emission techniques to the room and high-temperature assessment of ceramic matrix composites under axial tensile and fatigue loading, with particular attention afforded to a silicon carbide fibre-reinforced silicon carbide composite (SiCf
/SiC) variant. Data from these separate monitoring techniques plus ancillary use of X-ray computed tomography, in-situ scanning electron microscopy and optical inspection were correlated to monitor the onset and progression of damage during mechanical loading. The benefits of employing a concurrent, multi-technique approach to monitoring damage in CMCs are demonstrated.
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