Processing-structure-property relationships of thermal barrier coatings deposited using the solution precursor plasma spray process

Date of Completion

January 2003


Engineering, Materials Science




This research is intended to develop a novel process, solution-precursor plasma-spray (SPPS), for the deposition of highly durable thermal barrier coatings (TBCs). In the SPPS process a solution precursor feedstock, that results in ZrO2-7 wt% Y2O3 ceramic, is injected into the plasma jet and the coating is deposited on a metal substrate. The formed coating has the following novel microstructural features: (i) ultra-fine splats, (ii) through-thickness cracks, (iii) micrometer and nanometer porosity, and (iv) interpass boundaries. ^ The deposition mechanisms of the solution precursor droplets injected into the different regions of the plasma jet were found to be different due to large temperature variation across the plasma jet. The solution precursor droplets injected into the core of the plasma jet are deposited on the substrate as ultra-fine splats that account for around 65 volume% of the coating. The other 35 volume% of the coating includes porosity and deposits formed from the solution precursor droplets injected into other regions of the plasma jet. ^ The optimum processing condition for highly durable TBCs was determined using Taguchi design of experiments. Meanwhile, the relationship of the microstructural features and processing parameters was revealed. ^ During thermal cycling, the unmelted particles in the coating were observed to pyloyze and/or sinter, while no sign of sintering was observed for the ultra-fine splats. The spacing of through-thickness cracks remains in the range of 160 to 190 μm throughout the thermal cycling test. Three stages of oxidation of the bond coat were observed. ^ Failure of the SPPS TBC starts with the crack nucleation along the unmelted particles in the top coat and the Ni, Cr, Co-rich oxides of large thickness. These cracks propagate and coalesce with thermal cycling. The extensive cracking of the rapidly formed Ni, Cr, Co-rich oxides resulting from the depletion of aluminum in the bond coat leads to the development of large separation between TBC and substrate. When a separation of sufficient size emerges, the TBC starts to separate from the metal substrate by large scale buckling as a result of the small strain energy stored in the strain tolerant SPPS TBCs. ^