Matrices: Carbon, metal and ceramic

Perhaps the most exotic matrix, in part because it is neither thermoset nor thermoplastic, is pyrolized and densified noncontinuous carbon, which forms the matrix in carbon/carbon (C/C) composites. C/Cs withstand extremely high temperatures – nearly 1650°C/3000°F on space shuttle components – and also find use in

Perhaps the most exotic matrix, in part because it is neither thermoset nor thermoplastic, is pyrolized and densified noncontinuous carbon, which forms the matrix in carbon/carbon (C/C) composites. C/Cs withstand extremely high temperatures – nearly 1650°C/3000°F on space shuttle components – and also find use in aircraft and race car braking components, missile engines and exhaust nozzles, which can experience short-term service temperatures as high as 2760°C/5000°F.

Metals (e.g., aluminum, titanium and magnesium) and ceramics (such as silicon carbide) are used as matrices, as well, for specialized applications, such as spacecraft components, where minimal CTE and an absence of outgassing are required. They also are used in engine components, where polymer matrices cannot provide the extremely high temperature resistance required.