Shear and delamination behaviour of basal planes in Zr3AlC2 MAX phase studied by micromechanical testing

S. Wang; O. Gavalda-Diaz; J. Lyons; F. Giuliani

Scripta Materialia 240 (2024) 115829-115829

The mechanical properties of layered, hexagonal-structured MAX phases often show the combined merits of metals and ceramics, making them promising material candidates for safety critical applications. While their unique mechanical performance largely arises from the crystal structure, the effect of chemistry on the properties of these materials remains unclear. To study this, here we employed two in situ electron microscope small-scale testing approaches to examine the micromechanical properties of Zr3AlC2, and compared the results with the properties of Ti3SiC2: we used micropillar compression tests to measure basal slip strength, and double cantilever beam splitting tests to evaluate fracture energy for basal plane delamination. We observed distinct and systematic differences in these measured properties between Zr3AlC2 and Ti3SiC2, where Zr3AlC2 appeared to be stronger but more brittle at the microscale, and discussed the implications of the results in the selection, design, and engineering of MAX phases for targeted engineering applications.