Results & Discussion
Various experiments and characterization techniques were chosen to target specific areas of interest in the material properties. First, heating and holding the two types of materials at different temperatures can give us an idea of extremes and allow us to understand the capabilities of these materials.After degradation experiments were done, we sought several characterization techniques to identify any changes in the materials composition and structure.
By determining the crystal structure of the pristine samples and identifying planes that the high energy incident radiation are scattering from, we can identify what crystal structure we initially have. We then can do measurements on degraded samples to identify new phase formations in the degraded sample. If the structure and composition of the material changes through these degradation experiments, we will expect to see different peaks in our XRD analysis. This will give us a good idea of what oxides might be forming in degraded samples that are not originally present in the pristine samples.
SEM, a technique that uses electrons to image the surface of the samples, can then be used to inspect the topography of the material at very high resolution. Imaging the surface can give us high resolution insight into how degraded the samples are when compared to pristine samples.If the surface shows detrimental changes to the material, then we can be certain that we should not use these materials at certain temperatures out of fear of material failure. EDS can then be used to identify compositions of various formations on the surface of these materials. We would expect to see surface morphology on areas of the material that have undergone heavy oxidation. EDS will also allow us to identify the percent oxygen content of the degraded material.
Density measurements can then validate the full picture and show physical changes in the materials composition by showing different values for various temperature ranges. We expect to see drastic changes in density if a material has undergone any physical change due to the degradation experiments.The ceramic Zirconia samples should show little to no changes due to the highly stable ionic bonding in the material. This lends to the full story of the ceramic material further being a superior material as it can thermally withstand extreme temperatures and maintain its chemical composition andstructural integrity.