Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Dipankar Ghosh

Committee Member

Xiaoyu Zhang

Committee Member

Abdelmageed Elmustafa


Development of bio-inspired highly porous (>50 vol.%) cellular ceramics is crucial to meet the demand of high-performance lightweight and damage-tolerant materials for a number of cutting-edge applications including impact energy absorption, biomedical implants, and energy storage. A key design feature that is observed in many natural materials (e.g., nacre, bamboo, wood, etc.) is the presence of hierarchical microstructure that results in an excellent synergy of various material properties, which are otherwise considered as mutually exclusive in current paradigm of materials design. To this end, development of multilayered, interconnected and anisotropic cellular ceramics could benefit the aforementioned applications. However, mimicking natural design principles to develop robust cellular materials is of paramount challenge because most of the available processing techniques are limited to the fabrication of simple materials microstructures. In contrast, freeze casting is one emerging technique that has shown great promise to develop nature-inspired hierarchical cellular ceramics. While a large number of recent studies focused on the development of process-structure correlations of freeze-cast ceramics, understanding of the structure-property relationships has been extremely limited. Therefore, this thesis develops a custom-made unidirectional freeze casting device to investigate the effects of the variation of the particle size (0.3 μm vs. 0.9 μm) on the microstructure and uniaxial compressive response of ice-templated sintered alumina scaffolds as a function of solids loading and freezing front velocity (FFV). For comparable solids loading and FFV, particle size effects on the microstructure of the scaffolds are observed to be significant. Moreover, transition of the pore morphology with the increasing solids loading and FFV is observed to be more drastic for the scaffolds processed from the 0.9 μm particles compared to the 0.3 μm particles. Similarly, particle size variations also significantly influenced the relative density and porosity of the scaffolds. However, in spite of the observed differences of the microstructure, relative density and porosity, uniaxial compressive stress-strain measurements revealed marginal particle size effects on the compressive strength. The apparent marginal particle size effects on the compressive strength are rationalized based on the relative variation of the relative density, pore aspect ratio, and interlamellae bridge density in between the sintered alumina scaffolds processed from 0.3 μm and 0.9 μm particle sizes. This study also suggests that particle size variation within a range of submicrometer to few micrometers (typical particle size range used in ceramic processing) can be uniquely employed to systematically modify the microstructure of the ice-templated sintered ceramic scaffolds, without significantly altering their uniaxial compressive response; which can be useful to optimize the structure-property relationships of the ice-templated scaffolds for the structural, biomedical and functional applications.