Failure mechanisms of platinum aluminide bond coat/electron beam-physical vapor deposited thermal barrier coatings

Date of Completion

January 2001


Engineering, Materials Science




Thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) allow operation of structural components, such as turbine blades and vanes in industrial and aircraft gas engines, at temperatures close to the substrate melting temperatures. They consist of four different layers; a high strength creep-resistant nickel-based superalloy substrate, an oxidation resistant bond coat (BC), a low thermal conductivity ceramic topcoat and a thermally grown oxide (TGO), that is predominantly α-Al 2O3, that forms between the BC and the TBC. Compressive stresses (3–5 GPa) that are generated in the thin TGO (0.25–8 μm) due to the mismatch in thermal coefficient of expansion between the TGO and BC play a critical role in the failure of these coatings. ^ In this study, the failure mechanisms of a commercial yttria-stabilized zirconia (7YSZ) electron beam-physical vapor deposited (EB-PVD) coating on platinum aluminide (β-(Ni,Pt)Al) bond coat have been identified. Two distinct mechanisms have been found responsible for the observed damage initiation and progression at the TGO/bond coat interface. The first mechanism leads to localized debonding at TGO/bond coat interface due to increased out-of-plane tensile stress, along bond coat features that manifest themselves as ridges. The second mechanism causes cavity formation at the TGO/bond coat interface, driven by cyclic plasticity of the bond coat. It has been found that the debonding at the TGO/bond coat interface due to the first mechanism is solely life determining. The final failure occurs by crack extension along either the TGO/bond coat interface or the TGO/YSZ interface or a combination of both, leading to large scale buckling. Based on these mechanisms, it is demonstrated that the bond coat grain size and the aspect ratio of the ridges have a profound influence on spallation lives of the coating. The removal of these ridges by fine polishing prior to TBC deposition led to a four-fold improvement in life. The failure mechanism identified for the improved coatings indicates absence of both the mechanisms that were responsible for damage initiation and progression and hence the final spallation was very different, accounting for the life improvement. ^ The change in compressive residual stress in the TGO layer reflects the damage progression in the TGO layer. To this end, the TGO stresses were measured non-destructively as function of thermal cycles using the novel photoluminescence piezospectroscopy (PLPS) technique. The compressive stresses were found to increase in the first few cycles, (up to 10 cycles) and gradually decrease with increasing number of cycles, up to failure. The standard deviation of the measured stress, indicative of the damage evolution, is found to significantly increase just before the failure of the coating. The sensitivity of the TGO stress to the peak temperature amplitude is also established. Application of the PLPS technique was demonstrated for the first time, both on plasma-sprayed and EB-PVD thermal barrier coated turbine-blades. ^