Spectroscopic detection and analysis of atomic emissions during industrial pulsed laser-drilling of structural aerospace alloys

Date of Completion

January 2010


Engineering, Aerospace|Physics, Atomic|Engineering, Materials Science




The ability to adequately cool internal gas-turbine engine components in next-generation commercial and military aircraft is of extreme importance to the aerospace industry as the demand for high-efficiency engines continues to push operating temperatures higher. Pulsed laser-drilling is rapidly becoming the preferred method of creating cooling holes in high temperature components due a variety of manufacturing advantages of laser-drilling over conventional hole-drilling techniques. As cooling requirements become more demanding, the impact of drilling conditions on material removal behavior and subsequent effects on hole quality becomes critical. In this work, the development of emission spectroscopy as a method to probe the laser-drilling process is presented and subsequently applied to the study of material behavior of various structural aerospace materials during drilling. Specifically, emitted photons associated with energy level transitions within excited neutral atoms in material ejected during drilling were detected and analyzed. Systematic spectroscopic studies indicated that electron energy level populations and calculated electron temperatures within ejected material are dependent on both laser pulse energy and duration. Local thermal conditions detected by the developed method were related to the characteristics of ejected material during drilling and to final hole quality. Finally, methods of utilizing the observed relationships for spectroscopic process monitoring and control were demonstrated. ^