This paper addresses the application of ultrasonic methods to damage assessment in ceramics and ceramic matrix composites. It focuses on damage caused by thermal shock and oxidation at elevated temperatures. The damage-induced changes in elastic constants and elastic anisotropy are determined by measuring the velocities of ultrasonic waves in different propagation directions within the sample. Thermal shock damage measurement is performed in ceramic samples of reaction bonded silicon nitride (RBSN) and aluminum oxide. Thermal shock treatment from different temperatures up to 1000°C is applied to produce the microcracks. Both surface and bulk ultrasonic wave methods are used to correlate the change of elastic constants to microstructural degradation and to determine the change in elastic anisotropy induced by microcrack damage. Oxidation damage is studied in silicon carbide fiber/reaction bonded silicon nitride matrix (SCS-6/RBSN) composites. The oxidation is done by exposing the samples in a flowing oxygen environment at elevated temperatures, up to 1400°C, for 100 hours. Significant changes of ultrasonic velocities were observed for composites before and after oxidation. The elastic constants of the composites were determined from the measured velocity data. The Young’s modulus in the fiber direction as obtained from ultrasonic measurements decreases significantly at 600°C but retains its original value at temperatures above 1200°C. This agrees well with the results of destructive tests by other authors. The transverse longitudinal and shear moduli obtained from ultrasonic measurements decrease continually until 1200°C. The results of this work show that the damage-induced anisotropy in both ceramics and ceramic matrix composites can be determined successfully by ultrasonic methods. This suggests the possibility of assessing damage severity using ultrasonic techniques.

This content is only available via PDF.