Processing of dense bioinspired ceramics with deliberate microstructure

H. Le Ferrand; F. Bouville

Journal of the American Ceramic Society 102 (2019) 7253-7263

The architectures of biological hard materials reveal finely tailored complex assemblies of mineral crystals. Numerous recent studies associate the design of these local assemblies with impressive macroscopic response. Reproducing such exquisite control in technical ceramics conflicts with commonly used processing methods. Here, we circumvent this issue by combining the recently developed Magnetically Assisted Slip Casting (MASC) technique with the well-established process of templated grain growth (TGG). MASC enables the local control over the orientation of platelets dispersed among smaller isotropic particles. After a high-temperature pressureless heat treatment, the grains of the final ceramic follow the same orientation as of the initial platelets. This combination allows us to produce 95% dense alumina part with a grain orientation following any deliberate orientation. We successfully fabricated microstructures inspired from biological materials with ceramics that present periodically varying patterns with a programmable pitch down to a few tens of micrometers. The periodically textured dense ceramics exhibit matching variation of local hardness, confirming the capacity of the process to tailor local properties. This unique micrometer scale control over the local mechanical properties could be applied to adapt ceramic structures to complex loads using this inexpensive and scalable process. In systems where functional properties also depend on anisotropic grain orientation, the principle presented here could enable the creation of new multifunctional ceramics.