Fully dense, diamond-silicon carbide composites are prepared from ball-milled microcrystalline diamond/amorphous silicon powder mixture. The ball-milled powder is sintered (P=5 8 GPa, T=1400K 2300K) to form composites having high fracture toughness. A composite made at 5 GPa/1673K had a measured fracture toughness of 12 MPam.sup.1/2. By contrast, liquid infiltration of silicon into diamond powder at 5 GPa/1673K produces a composite with higher hardness but lower fracture toughness. X-ray diffraction patterns and Raman spectra indicate that amorphous silicon is partially transformed into nanocrystalline silicon at 5 GPa/873K, and nanocrystalline silicon carbide forms at higher temperatures.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERAL RIGHTS
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.