ABSTRACT A number of nanocrystalline ceramics have been fabricated by the gas phase condensation technique. The mechanical properties of one of the first ceramics produced by this method, nanophase TiO2, have been discussed in an earlier study.1 This paper reports a similar study undertaken to examine the properties of nanocrystalline ZnO. Nanoindenter techniques are used to determine hardness, Young's modulus, and strain rate sensitivity in ultra-fine grained ZnO. Significant properties variations are experienced within a given sample, indicating a large degree of microstructural inhomogeneity. Nevertheless, a distinct evolution in properties can be observed as a function of sintering temperature. Young's modulus and hardness values increase almost linearly with increasing sintering temperature, and, in addition, there also appears to be a linear correlation between the development of the two materials properties. In contrast, strain rate sensitivity is shown to have an inverse dependence on sintering temperature. This dependence appears to be linked to the strong influence of grain size on strain rate sensitivity, so that the lower sintering temperatures, which provide the finer grain sizes, tend to promote strain rate sensitivity. The results of this study are strikingly similar to those obtained earlier for nanophase TiO2, and they indicate that the earlier results could probably be generalized to a much broader range of nanocrystalline ceramics.
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