High spatial resolution thermal conductivity mapping of SiC/SiC composites

Ella Kartika Pek, John Brethauer, David G. Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Silicon carbide (SiC) ceramic matrix composites are being investigated as a new generation of fuel cladding materials due to its higher accident tolerance compared to Zircaloy. Characterization of the thermal conductivity of SiC constituents and their interfaces and interphases in SiC/SiC composites is needed as inputs to models of cladding performance. We used time-domain thermoreflectance (TDTR) to map the thermal conductivity with a spatial resolution of 2 µm. The SiC/SiC composite is comprised of Hi-Nicalon Type S fibers in a matrix made by chemical vapor infiltration (CVI matrix). The interphase material is a pyrolytic carbon/SiC multilayer. We report thermal conductivity maps of the SiC fiber and SiC matrix at temperatures of 25 °C, 90 °C, 164 °C, and 250 °C. The fiber has a uniform and isotropic thermal conductivity of 22 W m−1 K−1 at 25 °C; the thermal conductivity of fiber is approximately independent of temperature. The matrix thermal conductivity is not uniform and varies from 50 to 120 W m−1 K−1 at 25 °C; the thermal conductivity of the matrix scales approximately with the inverse of the square root of temperature, i.e., ∝ 1/T1/2. The thermal conductivity of the interphase at room temperature is 6 W m−1 K−1. The calculated spatially averaged thermal conductivity of this SiC/SiC composite at 1000°C is 29 W m−1 K−1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152519
JournalJournal of Nuclear Materials
StatePublished - Dec 15 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative fuel cladding
  • Ceramic matrix composites
  • SiC/SiC composites
  • Thermal conductivity mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • General Materials Science
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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