This paper is aims to give an answer to the following question: is the oxidation of graphene a critical issue for high-temperature plasticity in graphene-reinforced ceramics? To give a convincing reply, we will focus on two very different graphene-based ceramic composites: reduced graphene oxide (rGO)-reinforced alumina (α-Al2O3) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO)-reinforced yttria tetragonal zirconia (t-ZrO2). The processing of the powders has been made using a colloidal route, and after that, a spark plasma sintering process was performed in order to densify the samples. Creep tests were performed at temperatures between 1200-1250 °C in an argon atmosphere. The microstructure obtained by an SEM of the sintered and tested specimens was characterized quantitatively to elucidate the deformation mechanism. Raman spectroscopy was carried out to check the integrity of the graphene. The average grain size was in the order of 1 µm and the shape factor was 0.7 for all the studied materials. The integrity of the graphene was checked before and after the creep experiments. The careful analysis of the creep tests shows that graphene oxide or its reduced version are not efficient phases for creep resistance improvement in general, contrary to what is reported elsewhere. However, the results permit the suggestion of a creep improvement in nanocomposites at a very high temperature regime due to an enhanced reactivity of oxygen between carbon and alumina interfaces. In the case of zirconia, the results give us the conclusion that the oxidation of graphene is a highly detrimental issue regarding the improvement of high-temperature plasticity.
Keywords: ceramic; composite; high temperature; microstructural characterization; plasticity.