The European Ceramic Society


May 31, 2023

YCN Newsletter 17 - Research in Spot - Processing of new super-hard and ultra-hard ceramics for personnel protection and industrial applications requiring stringent working conditions by Cristina Ojalvo Guiberteau

Research in Spot – 3rd YCN Workshop edition - 2nd place of the Best oral presentation 

"Processing of new super-hard and ultra-hard ceramics for personnel protection and industrial applications requiring stringent working conditions" by Cristina Ojalvo Guiberteau

The continuous development of new industrial applications, such as sliding or ball bearings, cutting tools, etc., as well as elements protecting against ballistic impact (armours, bullet–proof vests, etc.), requires the increasing use of super–hard and ultra–hard ceramics as they excel for their resistance to wear and contact damage, high temperatures and chemically aggressive environments (oxidation, corrosion, etc.). On this basis, the scope of my research is focused on processing ceramic composites based on super–hard and ultra–hard phases (carbides, borides, carbonitrides, etc.).

During my PhD period I was involved on developing new ultra–hard composite ceramics based on B4C, with improved toughness. B4C has great potential since it has a singular low density (∼2.52 g/cm³) and superior hardness (≥30 GPa). However, its high melting point (∼2490 °C), and its inherent brittleness greatly hinders its manufacture and incorporation into these engineering areas. To solve these serious drawbacks, I added small proportions of certain additives to reduce the sintering temperature of the B4C without compromising its high hardness. I chose MoSi2 and Ti-Al as additives because during sintering they generate a transient liquid–phase, which first helps to densify and then reacts in situ with the B4C disappearing completely to give rise to other refractory and ultra–hard carbides and borides. In addition, to alleviate the problem of the brittleness of B4C, I also manufactured ultra–hard and toughened materials incorporating carbonaceous nanoplatelets as reinforcements that hinder the propagation of cracks. All materials were ultra–fast densified by spark plasma sintering (SPS) with or without pressure. Furthermore, I prepared many powder mixtures used for SPS with pressure following an environmentally friendly route by aqueous colloidal processing, which was also the technique that I used for preparing the green parts with near–net–shape for presureless SPS.

At present I have a Postdoctoral Fellowship that is being held at the University of Aveiro until the end 2023 and it will continue at the University of Seville during 2024. Throughout 2023, the approach that I am taking aims at combining super–hard and ultra–hard ceramics (TiCN, cBN) with small amounts of reactive sintering additives that have not been used before to be ultra–fast densified at lower temperatures. Once the manufacturing step has been completed, I am evaluating the potential of these new ceramic composites by microstructural and mechanical characterization, and I am also performing systematic electrochemical studies to test their corrosion resistance. This workplan will be also followed over 2024 with a new family of materials as the aim during the whole period consists of developing novel super–hard and ultra–hard ceramics which are excellent candidates to be implemented in the abovementioned industrial applications.


Dr. Cristina Ojalvo Guiberteau 
“Margarita Salas” Postdoctoral Fellow

Google scholar



Last news

Apr 18, 2024
Next Deadline to apply to the JECS Trust is 31st May 2024!

Please note that the decisions of the JECS Trust board will not be known before end of July 2024. Activities submitted for the deadline of 31st May 2024 for support from the JECS Trust should then not begin before mid-August 2024.

Apr 17, 2024
YCN Newsletter 21 - Interview of Dr. Stefan Pfeiffer

Interview of Dr. Stefan Pfeiffer Managing Director of the Deutsche Keramische Gesellschaft (DKG) and former YCN representative


Contact us for any information: - We will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.


Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest news.

Our actions

ECerS coordinates and promotes the study of ceramics through the following actions :

ECerS office

Av. Gouverneur Cornez , 4

7000 Mons


Useful links