Ablation-resistant carbide Zr0.8Ti0.2C0.74B0.26 for oxidizing environments up to 3,000 °C

Yi Zeng, Dini Wang, Xiang Xiong, Xun Zhang, Philip Withers, Wei Sun, Matthew Smith, Mingwen Bai, Ping Xiao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs) are desirable for applications in the hypersonic vehicle, rockets, re-entry spacecraft and defence sectors, but few materials can currently satisfy the associated high temperature ablation requirements. Here we have designed and fabricated a new carbide (Zr0.8Ti0.2C0.74B0.26) coating by reactive melt infiltration and pack cementation onto a C/C composite. It displays superior ablation resistance at temperatures from 2,000-3,000 °C, compared to existing UHTCs (e.g. a rate of material loss over 12 times better than conventional ZrC at 2,500 °C). The carbide is a substitutional solid solution of Zr-Ti containing carbon vacancies that are randomly occupied by boron atoms. The sealing ability of the ceramic’s oxides, low oxygen diffusion and a dense and gradient distribution of ceramic result in much slower loss of protective oxide layers formed during ablation than other ceramic systems, leading to the superior ablation resistance. More broadly, this work provides a platform for building a series of such UHTCs (e.g. A (M) CxBy), where A and M are the main atoms (transition metals, IV) and the substitution atoms (transition metals, IV/V), respectively.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number15836
    JournalNature Communications
    Early online date17 Jun 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2017


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