A new approach to tensile creep testing and analysis based on stress relaxation is described for sintered silicon nitride. Creep rate data covering up to five orders of magnitude were generated in tests lasting less than one day. Tests from various initial stresses at temperatures from 1250C to 1350C were analyzed and compared with creep rates measured during conventional constant load testing. It was shown that at least 40% of the creep strain accumulated under all test conditions was recoverable, and that the deformation could properly be described as viscoelastic/plastic. Tests were conducted to establish the level of repeatability and the effects of various thermomechanical histories. It was shown that none of the prior exposures led to significant impairment in creep strength. The results were used for three different grades to establish the value of the accelerated test to compare creep strengths for acceptance and for optimization. Several useful correlations were obtained between stress and creep rate. The systematic creep rate dependence as a function of loading strain prior to relaxation provided a possible basis for design in terms of a secant modulus analysis.

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