The influence of spark plasma sintering on multiscale mechanical properties of nickel-based composite materials

S. Nosewicz; P. Jenczyk; B. Romelczyk-Baishya; P. Bazarnik; D. Jarząbek; K. Majchrowicz; Z. Pakieła; K. Kowiorski; M. Chmielewski

Materials Science and Engineering: A 891 (2024) 146001-146001

The paper presents a comprehensive investigation of the influence of the main process parameters of spark plasma sintering on the mechanical and microstructural properties of nickel-silicon carbide composites at various scales. Microstructure analysis performed by scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed a significant interfacial reaction between nickel and silicon carbide due to the decomposition of silicon carbide. The chemical interaction of the matrix and reinforcement results in the formation of a multicomponent interphase zone formed by silicides (Ni31Si12 or/and Ni3Si) and graphite precipitates. Furthermore, several types of structure defects were observed (mainly nano/micropores at the phase boundaries). These significantly influenced the mechanical response of nickel-silicon carbide composites at different levels. At the macroscopic scale, uniaxial tensile tests confirmed that applying a 1000 °C sintering temperature ensured that the manufactured composite was characterised by satisfactory tensile strength, however, with a considerable reduction of material elongation compared to pure nickel. Moreover, the fractography study allowed us to identify a significant difference in the damage mode for certain nickel-silicon carbide samples. Secondly, the interface of the nickel matrix and silicate interphase was tested by bending with microcantilevers to evaluate its deformation behaviour, strength, and fracture characteristics. It was confirmed that a diffusive kind of interface, such as Ni-NiSi, demonstrates unexpected bonding properties with a relatively large range of plastic deformation. Finally, the nanoindentation of three main components of the nickel-silicon carbide composite was executed to evaluate the evolution of nanohardness, Young’s modulus, and elastic recovery due to the application of various spark plasma sintering conditions.