Microstructural evolution during the infiltration of boron carbide with molten silicon Academic Article uri icon


  • The previously reported model that accounts for the formation of the core-rim structure in reaction-bonded boron carbide composites (RBBC) is expanded and validated by additional experimental observations and by a thermodynamic analysis of the ternary B–C–Si system. The microstructure of the RBBC composites consists of boron carbide particles with a core-rim structure, β-SiC and some residual silicon. The SiC carbide particles have a polygonal shape in composites fabricated in the presence of free carbon, in contrast to the plate-like morphology when the initial boron carbide is the sole source of carbon. In the course of the infiltration process, the original B 4 C particles dissolve partly or fully in molten silicon, and a local equilibrium is established between boron carbide, molten silicon and SiC. Overall equilibrium in the system is achieved as a result of the precipitation of the ternary boron carbide phase B 12 (B,C,Si) 3 at the surface of the original boron carbide particles and leads to the formation of the rim regions. This feature is well accounted for by the “stoichiometric saturation” approach, which takes into account the congruent dissolution of B 4 C particles. The SiC phase, which precipitates form the silicon melt adopts the β-allotropic structure and grows preferably as single plate-like particles with an {1 1 1} β habit plane. The morphology of the SiC particles is determined by the amount of carbon available for their formation.

publication date

  • January 1, 2010