Optical Diagnostics of Thermal Barrier Coatings

Date of Completion

January 2010


Engineering, Mechanical|Physics, Optics|Engineering, Materials Science




The high temperature properties of ceramic materials make them suitable for the extreme environments of gas combustion powered turbines. They are instrumental in providing thermal insulation for the metallic turbine components from the combustion products. Also, the addition of specific rare earth elements to ceramics creates materials with temperature diagnostic applications. Laser based methods have been applied to these ceramic coatings to predict their remaining thermal insulation service life and to explore their high temperature diagnostic capabilities. ^ A method for cleaning thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) contaminated during engine operation has been developed using laser ablation. Surface contamination on the turbine blades hinders nondestructive remaining life prediction using photo luminescence piezospectroscopy (PLPS). Real time monitoring of the removed material is employed to prevent damage to the underlying coating. This method relies on laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to compute the cross correlation coefficient between the spectral emissions of a sample TBC that is contaminated and a reference clean TBC. It is possible to remove targeted contaminants and cease ablation when the top surface of the TBC has been reached. In collaboration with this work, Kelley's thesis [1] presents microscopy images and PLPS measurements indicating the integrity of the TBC has been maintained during the removal of surface contaminants. ^ Thermographic phosphors (TGP) have optical emission properties when excited by a laser that are temperature dependent. These spectral and temporal properties have been investigated and utilized for temperature measurement schemes by many previous researchers. The compounds presented in this dissertation consist of various rare earth (Lanthanide) elements doped into a host crystal lattice. As the temperature of the lattice changes, both the time scale for vibrational quenching and the distribution of energy among atomic energy levels changes. A fully characterized TGP by laser induced fluorescence will exhibit repeatable radiative lifetimes varying with temperature due to vibrational quenching. Specific TGPs also exhibit temperature dependent spectra due to emission from different energy levels. These spectral trends appear at lower temperatures than the initiation of lifetime dependence, as described in this dissertation. The TGPs were synthesized in-house, by collaborators, or industrial sources. The concentrations of the dopants have been varied, and co-doping was investigated as well. This study has allowed for spectral and temporal characterization of these compounds, combined temperature sensing from 200 °C to 1600 °C. ^ In addition to the diagnostic capabilities of TGPs, several related topics are discussed. An instrumentation method using double offset boxcar integration to determine the lifetime in realtime is presented. Since the Lanthanide elements have the same basic electronic structure their lifetime trends with temperature are similar. This allows for a nondimensionalization scheme to be applied to the data sets. The efficacy of this scheme is apparent as the data sets collapse into a single curve. Additionally, a mathematical model of the radiative decay lifetime is proposed that uses the phonon distribution of the host ceramic. 'Ibis model accurately predicts the lifetime values of Y2O 3 host compounds. With fitted parameters it is able to capture the lifetime trends of YAG and YVO4 host compounds. ^