2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Development and Validation of a Miniaturized Ball-on-Three-Ball Test for Biaxial Flexure Strength of Technical Ceramics

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Brian Jaques


Miniaturized (~3 mm diameter) advanced technology nuclear fuels are of interest for their ability to simulate mechanical properties of their larger counterparts in a fraction of the time (2 years compared to 25 years). However, understanding the mechanical properties of these miniaturized samples is an important aspect of their development and qualification. In this study, a miniaturized ball-on-3-ball (B3B) fixture was designed to determine the traverse rupture strength (TRS) of right-cylindrical ceramics. Fixture revisions led to an optimal final design. Three technical ceramics were tested to validate the miniaturized B3B fixture, including high purity alumina (Al2O3), magnesia partially stabilized zirconia (MSZ), and yttria partially stabilized zirconia (YTPZ). Two different sample preparation methods and fixture geometries were to optimize testing conditions. Grain size and distribution analysis was also conducted via thermal etching and imaging to verify the grain structure of each material used in testing. The TRS and Weibull data for alumina and MSZ obtained in this study yielded comparable results to prior results to a B3B fixture for larger volume samples. A validated miniaturized B3B fixture will have the potential to become a primary method of obtaining mechanical properties of miniaturized advanced technology fuels.

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