Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Microstructural Simulation of Superelastic Zirconia-Reinforced Metal Composite for Energy Dissipation Applications



This paper studies the mechanical properties of superelastic zirconia-reinforced aluminum-matrix composites through finite element simulations of microstructural representations. The objective of this study is to exploit the reversible phase transformation of zirconia to develop a composite with improved strength and energy dissipation capacity. Zirconia is a shape memory ceramic with promising potential in actuation, energy damping, and fatigue applications. Compared to the most commonly used shape memory alloys, zirconia is distinguished by a wider operational temperature range, higher recoverable strains, and a larger energy dissipation. The two-phase composite studied in this work consists of 16 mol% ceria-doped zirconia particles embedded in an aluminum matrix. The behavior of zirconia is simulated using the isothermal superelastic constitutive relationship proposed by Auricchio and Taylor. A series of numerical simulations is conducted to examine the effects of the matrix yield stress as well as the particles’ diameter and volume fraction on the evolution of the phase transformation, the strength, and the energy dissipation of the composite. A random generating algorithm is used to produce the locations of zirconia reinforcing particles. The results indicate that zirconia-reinforced aluminum-matrix composite exhibits enhanced strength and energy dissipation. The incorporation of 50% zirconia volume fraction improves the maximum stress by 50% while the amount of energy dissipation is increased by 24%. This paper provides insight into the potential application of zirconia-based composites for an efficient damping response.


Full Text:



Lai, A., Z. Du, C. L. Gan, and C. A. Schuh. 2013, “Shape Memory and Superelastic Ceramics

at Small Scales,†Science, 341(6153):1505–1508.

Reyes-Morel, P. E. and I.W. Chen. 1988, “Transformation Plasticity of CeO2-Stabilized

Tetragonal Zirconia Polycrystals: I, Stress Assistance and Autocatalysis,†Journal of the

American Ceramic Society, 71(5):343–353.

Du, Z., X. M. Zeng, Q. Liu, C. A. Schuh, and C. L. Gan. 2017, “Superelasticity in Micro-

Scale Shape Memory Ceramic Particles,†Acta Materialia, 123:255–263.

Du, Z., P. Ye, X. M. Zeng, C. A. Schuh, N. Tamura, X.R. Zhou, and C. L. Gan. 2017,

“Synthesis of Monodisperse CeO2-ZrO2 Particles Exhibiting Cyclic Superelasticity Over

Hundreds of Cycles,†Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 100(9):4199–4208.

Zeng, X. M., A. Lai, C. L. Gan, and C. A. Schuh. 2016, “Crystal Orientation Dependence of

the Stress-Induced Martensitic Transformation in Zirconia-Based Shape Memory Ceramics,â€

Acta Materialia, 116:124–135.

Zeng, X., Z. Du, C. A. Schuh, and C. Gan. 2017, “Enhanced Shape Memory and

Superelasticity in Small-Volume Ceramics: A Perspective on the Controlling Factors,†MRS

Communications, 7(4):747–754.

Tuan, W., R. Chen, T. Wang, C. Cheng, and P. Kuo. 2002, “Mechanical Properties of

Al2O3/ZrO2 Composites,†Journal of the European Ceramic Society, 22(16):2827–2833.

Naglieri, V., P. Palmero, L. Montanaro, and J. Chevalier. 2013, “Elaboration of Alumina-

Zirconia Composites: Role of the Zirconia Content on the Microstructure and Mechanical

Properties,†Materials, 6(5):2090–2102.

Yang, G., J. C. Li, G. C. Wang, M. Yashima, S. L. Min, and T. C. Chen. 2006, “Investigation

on Strengthening and Toughening Mechanisms of Ce-TZP/Al2O3 Nanocomposites,â€

Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A, 37(6):1969–1975.

Deville, S., J. Chevalier, G. Fantozzi, J. F. Bartolomé, J. Requena, J. S. Moya, R. Torrecillas,

and L. A. DıÌaz. 2003, “Low-Temperature Ageing of Zirconia-Toughened Alumina Ceramics

and its Implication in Biomedical Implants,†Journal of the European Ceramic Society,


Moraes, M. C. C., C. N. Elias, J. D. Filho, and L. G. Oliveira. 2004, “Mechanical Properties

of Alumina-Zirconia Composites for Ceramic Abutments,†Materials Research, 7(4):643–

Harsha, R., M. V. Kulkarni, and B. Satish Babu. 2020, “Study of Mechanical Properties of

Aluminium/Nano-Zirconia Metal Matrix Composites,†Materials Today: Proceedings,


Roseline, S., V. Paramasivam, R. Anandhakrishnan, and P. R. Lakshminarayanan. 2019,

“Numerical Evaluation of Zirconium Reinforced Aluminium Matrix Composites for

Sustainable Environment,†Annals of Operations Research, 275(2):653–667.

Zacek, S., D. Brandyberry, A. Klepacki, C. Montgomery, M. Shakiba, M. Rossol, A. Najafi,

N. Sottos, P. Geubelle, C. Przybyla, G. Jefferson, X. Zhang. 2020, “Transverse Failure of

Unidirectional Composites: Sensitivity to Interfacial Properties,†pp. 329–347.

Shakiba, M. 2021, “Detecting Transverse Cracks Initiation in Composite Laminates via

Statistical Analysis of Sensitivity Data,†Mechanics Research Communications, p. 103701.

Li, Y., L. Phung, and C. Williams. 2019, “3D Multiscale Modeling of Fracture in Metal

Matrix Composites,†Journal of Materials Research, 34(13):2285–2294.

Sepasdar, R., and M. Shakiba. 2021, “Micromechanical Study of Multiple Transverse

Cracking in Cross-Ply Fiber-Reinforced Composite Laminates,†Composite Structures,


Baz, A., T. Chen, and J. Ro. 2000, “Shape Control of Nitinol-Reinforced Composite Beams,â€

Composites Part B: Engineering, 31(8):631–642.

Chen, X., A. Hehr, M. J. Dapino, and P. M. Anderson. 2015, “Deformation Mechanisms in

NiTi-Al Composites Fabricated by Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing,†Shape Memory and

Superelasticity, 1(3):294–309.

Xu, R., C. Bouby, H. Zahrouni, T. Ben Zineb, H. Hu, et al. 2018, “3D Modeling of Shape

Memory Alloy Fiber Reinforced Composites by Multiscale Finite Element Method,â€

Composite Structures, 200:408–419.

Ryu, J., B.-S. Jung, M.-S. Kim, J. Kong, M. Cho, et al. 2011, “Numerical Simulation of

Hybrid Composite Shape-Memory Alloy Wire-Embedded Structures,†Journal of Intelligent

Material Systems and Structures, 22(17):1941–1948.

Ghomshei, M. M., A. Khajepour, N. Tabandeh, and K. Behdinan. 2001, “Finite Element

Modeling of Shape Memory Alloy Composite Actuators: Theory and Experiment,†Journal

of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures,12(11):761–773.

Solomou, A.G., T. T. Machairas, and D. A. Saravanos. 2014, “A Coupled Thermomechanical

Beam Finite Element for the Simulation of Shape Memory Alloy Actuators,†Journal of

Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, 25(7):890–907.

Rajendran, M. K., M. Budnitzki, and M. Kuna. 2020, “Multi-Scale Modeling of Partially

Stabilized Zirconia with Applications to TRIP-Matrix Composites,†in Austenitic

TRIP/TWIP Steels and Steel-Zirconia Composites, vol. 298, H. Biermann and C. G. Aneziris,

eds., Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp.679–721.

Furgiuele, F. and C. Maletta. 2007, “Thermo-Mechanical Analysis of Alumina-Zirconia

Composites by a Hybrid Finite Element Method,†Mechanics of Advanced Materials and

Structures, 14(6):399–412.

Freim, J. and J. Mckittrick. 2005, “Modeling and Fabrication of Fine-Grain Alumina-

Zirconia Composites Produced from Nanocrystalline Precursors,†Journal of the American

Ceramic Society, 81:1773–1780.

Zaeem, M. A., N. Zhang, and M. Mamivand. 2019, “A Review of Computational Modeling

Techniques in Study and Design of Shape Memory Ceramics,†Computational Materials

Science, 160:120–136.

Cisse, C., W. Zaki, and T. Ben Zineb. 2016, “A Review of Constitutive Models and Modeling

Techniques for Shape Memory Alloys,†International Journal of Plasticity, 76:244–284.

Souza, A. C., E. N. Mamiya, and N. Zouain. 1998, “Three-Dimensional Model for Solids

Undergoing Stress-induced Phase Transformations,†European Journal of Mechanics -

A/Solids, 17(5):789–806.

Auricchio, F. and L. Petrini. 2004, “A Three-Dimensional Model Describing Stress-

Temperature Induced Solid Phase Transformations: Solution Algorithm and Boundary

Value Problems,†International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 61(6):807–

Auricchio, F., A. Reali, and U. Stefanelli. 2007, “A Three-Dimensional Model Describing

Stress-Induced Solid Phase Transformation with Permanent Inelasticity,†International

Journal of Plasticity, 23(2):207–226.

Auricchio, F., R. L. Taylor, and J. Lubliner. 1997, “Shape-Memory Alloys: Macromodelling

and Numerical Simulations of The Superelastic Behavior,†Computer Methods in Applied

Mechanics and Engineering, 146(3-4):281–312.

Auricchio, F. and R. L. Taylor. 1997, “Shape-Memory Alloys: Modelling and Numerical

Simulations of the Finite-Strain Superelastic Behavior,†Computer Methods in Applied

Mechanics and Engineering, 143(1-2):175–194.

SIMULIA. 2009, “Abaqus Analysis User’s Manual, Version 6.9,â€.

Lubliner, J. and F. Auricchio. 1996, “Generalized Plasticity and Shape-Memory Alloys,â€

International Journal of Solids and Structures, 33(7):991–1003.

Bondaryev, E. N. and C. M. Wayman. 1988, “Some Stress-Strain-Temperature Relationships

for Shape Memory Alloys,†Metallurgical Transactions A, 19(10):2407–2413.

Xue, L. and T. Wierzbicki. 2009, “Ductile Fracture Characterization of Aluminum Alloy

-T351 Using Damage Plasticity Theory,†International Journal of Applied Mechanics,


Azevedo, G. and D. Santos. 2000, “Synthesis and Characterization of Alumina–Zirconium

Intermetallic Composites,†Journal of Materials Synthesis and Processing, 8(2):101–107.

Becher, P. F. and M. V. Swain. 1992, “Grain-Size-Dependent Transformation Behavior in

Polycrystalline Tetragonal Zirconia,†Journal of the American Ceramic Society, 75(3):493–


  • There are currently no refbacks.