TaC, HfC and their solid solutions are promising candidate materials for thermal protection structures in hypersonic vehicles because of their very high melting temperatures (>4000 K) among other properties. The melting temperatures of slightly hypostoichiometric TaC, HfC and three solid solution compositions (Ta1−xHfxC, with x = 0.8, 0.5 and 0.2) have long been identified as the highest known. In the current research, they were reassessed, for the first time in the last fifty years, using a laser heating technique. They were found to melt in the range of 4041–4232 K, with HfC having the highest and TaC the lowest. Spectral radiance of the hot samples was measured in situ, showing that the optical emissivity of these compounds plays a fundamental role in their heat balance. Independently, the results show that the melting point for HfC0.98, (4232 ± 84) K, is the highest recorded for any compound studied until now.
Cedillos-Barraza, Omar; Manara, Dario; Boboridis, K.; Watkins, Tyson; Grasso, Salvatore; Jayaseelan, Daniel D.; Konings, Rudy J. M.; Reece, Michael J.; and Lee, William E., "Investigating the highest melting temperature materials: A laser melting study of the TaC-HfC system" (2016). Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Student Publications and Presentations. Paper 1.