Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) consist of ceramic fibers embedded into a ceramic matrix, resulting in significantly higher fracture toughness and thermal shock resistance compared to conventional ceramics.
CMCs have immense potential in applications where metals have limited lifetimes (due to high temperature) or where traditional ceramics have insufficient fracture properties. These applications include high-temperature gas turbines in aircraft engines, fusion reactor walls, and heat shield systems for space vehicles!
The design of the fiber matrix interface in CMCs allows them to arrest and deflect cracks, such that the fiber reinforcement improves its toughness (the fiber pull-out mechanism shown in the image is essential for this fracture toughness).
Ceramic matrix composites also have excellent corrosion resistance and a great strength-to-weight ratio. However, along with its many advantages, CMCs bring significant challenges, such as expensive processing techniques due to complex manufacturing requirements.