Dislocation-toughened ceramics

Lukas Porz*, Arne J. Klomp, Xufei Fang, Ning Li, Can Yildirim, Carsten Detlefs, Enrico Bruder, Marion Höfling, Wolfgang Rheinheimer, Eric A. Patterson, Peng Gao, Karsten Durst, Atsutomo Nakamura, Karsten Albe, Hugh Simons, Jürgen Rödel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Functional and structural ceramics have become irreplaceable in countless high-tech applications. However, their inherent brittleness tremendously limits the application range and, despite extensive research efforts, particularly short cracks are hard to combat. While local plasticity carried by mobile dislocations allows desirable toughness in metals, high bond strength is widely believed to hinder dislocation-based toughening of ceramics. Here, we demonstrate the possibility to induce and engineer a dislocation microstructure in ceramics that improves the crack tip toughness even though such toughening does not occur naturally after conventional processing. With modern microscopy and simulation techniques, we reveal key ingredients for successful engineering of dislocation-based toughness at ambient temperature. For many ceramics a dislocation-based plastic zone is not impossible due to some intrinsic property (e.g. bond strength) but limited by an engineerable quantity, i.e. the dislocation density. The impact of dislocation density is demonstrated in a surface near region and suggested to be transferrable to bulk ceramics. Unexpected potential in improving mechanical performance of ceramics could be realized with novel synthesis strategies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMaterials Horizons
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1528-1537
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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