3D-printed nano-architected ceramic metamaterials currently emerge as a class of lightweight materials with exceptional strength and stiffness. However, their application is hampered by the lack of knowledge on their mechanical reliability. Characteristics like the fracture strength and their dependency on environmental conditions are unknown. We herein present and discuss a nanoindentation pillar splitting method to measure fracture toughness, elastic modulus, and hardness of 3D-printed nano-ceramics. We show that two photon polymerization-derived pyrolytic carbon achieves improved fracture toughness over macroscopic forms of vitreous carbon, with values up to 3.1 MPam0.5. However, experiments at different humidity levels reveal that only few, nanometer-sized, surface cavities can cause embrittlement from liquid diffusion, which promotes earlier crack propagation. While comparable effects are less relevant in macro-size ceramics, this study demonstrates that reliability and durability of micro- and nano-architected ceramic metamaterials and devices requires toughening design approaches that focus on size-dependent surface effects.
Rossi, E., Bauer, J., Sebastiani, M. (2021). Humidity-dependent flaw sensitivity in the crack propagation resistance of 3D-printed nano-ceramics. SCRIPTA MATERIALIA, 194, 113684 [10.1016/j.scriptamat.2020.113684].