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Densification and microstructure development in spark plasma sintered WC–6 wt% ZrO2 nanocomposites

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2011

Krishanu Biswas
Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Amartya Mukhopadhyay
Laboratory for Advanced Ceramics, Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
Bikramjit Basu*
Laboratory for Advanced Ceramics, Department of Materials and Metallurgical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
Kamanio Chattopadhyay
Department of Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
a)Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:
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In this paper, we report the results of a transmission electron microscopy investigation on WC–6 wt% ZrO2nanocomposite, spark plasma sintered at 1300 °C, for varying times of up to 20 min. The primary aim of this work was to understand the evolution of microstructure during such a sintering process. The investigation revealed the presence of nanocrystalline ZrO2particles (30–50 nm) entrapped within submicron WC grains. In addition, relatively coarser ZrO2(60–100 nm) particles were observed to be either attached to WC grain boundaries or located at WC triple grain junctions. The evidence of the presence of a small amount of W2C, supposed to have been formed due to sintering reaction between WC and ZrO2, is presented here. Detailed structural investigation indicated that ZrO2in the spark plasma sintered nanocomposite adopted an orthorhombic crystal structure, and the possible reasons for o-ZrO2formation are explained. The increase in kinetics of densification due to the addition of ZrO2is believed to be caused by the enhanced diffusion kinetics in the presence of nonstoichiometric nanocrystalline ZrO2.

Copyright © Materials Research Society2007

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