Thermal protection of components such as turbine blades is often done with thermal barrier coatings which are typically ceramic materials. Methods to manufacture ceramic coatings are being developed to create microstructures that optimize thermal protection without degrading mechanical properties of the coating. The coating requires sufficient mechanical properties to remain in place during loads associated with the operation of the component. The work presented in this paper is part of a broader effort that focuses on novel processing techniques. A fabrication method of interest is the inclusion of spherical micron-sized pores to scatter photons at high temperatures along with nano-sized grains to scatter phonons. Pores are sized and distributed so that mechanical strength is maintained. In the current work, yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) is modeled. Three-dimensional microstructures representing YSZ are computationally generated. The defect sizes and orientations are generated to match an experimentally observed distribution. The defects are either randomly or regularly placed in the microstructural models. Stress-displacement analysis is used to determine effective bulk material properties. Comparisons are made to prior two-dimensional work and to experimental measurements available in the literature as appropriate. The influences that defect distributions and three dimensional effects have on the effective bulk material properties are quantified. This work is a preliminary step toward understanding the impacts that micron sized pores, voids and cracks have on thermal and mechanical characteristics. The goal is to facilitate optimizing the microstructure for thermal protection and strength retention.

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