2005 Volume 46 Issue 3 Pages 543-551
Mechanical testing after neutron irradiation is a critical research tool for evaluating materials for fusion systems, such as silicon carbide fiber silicon carbide matrix (SiC/SiC) composites. However, single-axis tensile testing, which is required to build a fundamental database, requires large specimens. Therefore miniaturization of tensile test specimens has long been pursued as a method to reduce the irradiation volume to fit the capsule size limitation. The objective of this study is to identify specimen size effects on tensile properties of SiC/SiC composites from the viewpoints of the influences of fabric architecture and tensile loading axis, with a final goal to establish a small specimen test technique for tensile testing of the composites. The axial fiber volume fraction plays an important role in achieving good tensile properties. However the size dependent change of the axial fiber volume fraction gives specimen size effect. The composites with much fiber volume content tended to have superior tensile strength, elastic modulus and proportional limit stress. Contrarily, the tensile properties of the composites with the same axial fiber volume fraction were almost independent of the specimen size. This type of size effect is generally common in any types of architecture. The size-relevant fracture mode in off-axis tension: detachment in shorter widths vs. in-plane shear at larger widths, also gives specimen size effect on tensile properties, resulting in strict limitation of miniaturization of the tensile specimen. Finally we proposed a miniature tensile specimen for the composites.