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Silicon Nitride in Aerospace Applications

Metals and other composites were the materials of choice for traditional aircraft production. However, with the advent of supersonic and hypersonic flights, these traditional materials could no longer meet the enormous demands and the extreme conditions found in those flights1. Hypersonic flight dictated the need for new materials possessing extremely exceptional material properties.

Silicon nitride can effectively replace legacy materials used in ball bearings, radomes, and RF windows for extreme applications. The ability to customize silicon nitride to a specific application is crucial to the overall optimization of these aerospace applications.

New Materials For New Conditions

According to NASA, one area that requires new materials is that of the turbine engine2,3. The efficiency of a gas turbine engine is increased by raising the turbine inlet temperature, and the maximum temperature is ultimately limited by material properties. Metals are now seeing service near their melting point.

NASA data shows that both commercial and research grades silicon nitride can tolerate the higher temperatures required by more efficient engines. The mechanical robustness of silicon nitride, along with its ability to withstand and perform at high temperatures experienced during high-velocity flights, have made it the material of choice for various aerospace applications.

References

1. https://www.sintx.com/news-media/blog/post/3359/silicon-nitride-and-the-aviation-and-aerospace-industry
2. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20010061357.pdf
3. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20130013143.pdf

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