Plasma Spray, Coatings, Nanocomposites, Alumina, Ceria, Tungsten


Plasma spray processing is a technique that is used extensively in thermal barrier coatings on gas and steam turbine components, biomedical implants and automotive components. Many processing parameters are involved to achieve a coating with certain functionality. The coating could be required to function as thermal barrier, wear resistant, corrosion resistant or a high temperature oxidation resistant coating. Various parameters, such as, nozzle and electrode design, powder feeding system, spray distances, substrate temperature and roughness, plasma gas flow rates and others can greatly alter the coating quality and resulting performance. Feedstock (powder or solution precursor) composition and morphology are some of the important variables, which can affect the high end coating applications. The amount of heat a plasma plume has to offer to the particles being processed as a coating depends primarily on the dissociation of the atoms of gaseous mixtures being used to create the plasma and the residence time required for the particle to stay in the flame. The parameters that are conducive for nanostructured retention could be found out if the residence time of the particles in the flame and the available heat in the plume for various gas combinations could be predicted. If the feedstock is a liquid precursor instead of a powder feedstock, the heat that has to be offered by the plasma could be increased by suitable gas combination to achieve a good quality coating. Very little information is available with regard to the selection of process parameters and processing of nano materials feedstock to develop nanostructured coatings using plasma spray. In this study, it has been demonstrated that nano ceramics or ceramic composites either in the form of coatings or bulk free form near net components could be processed using DC plasma spray. For powder feedstock, analytical heat transfer calculations could predict the particle states for a given set of parameters by way of heat input from the plasma to the particles. The parameter selection is rendered easier by means of such calculations. Alumina nano ceramic particles are processed as a coating. During Spray drying, a process of consolidation of nano alumina particles to spherical agglomerates, parameter optimization for complete removal of moisture has been achieved. The parameters are tested for alumina nanoparticles with a plasma torch for the veracity of calculations. The amount of heat transfer from the surface of the agglomerates to the core has been quantified as a function of velocity of particles. Since preparation of nanostructured feedstock for plasma spray is expensive and cumbersome, alternative solution precursor route for direct pyrolysis of precursor to coating has been studied in case of nanocrystalline rare earth oxides. Thus, it has also been shown by this research that nanostructured coatings could be either from a powder feedstock or a solution precursor feedstock. MoSi2-Si3N4, Ni-Al2O3, W-HfC nano ceramic composite systems have been processed as a bulk free form nanocomposite with 60-70% retained nanostructures. The importance of selection of substrates, roughness and the substrate temperature for development of free form bulk components has been highlighted. The improvement in mechanical and high temperature properties associated with having such nanostructured coatings or bulk nanocomposites are revealed. These nanostructured coatings are known for their low thermal conductivity, high wear resistance and can be potentially used as steam and gas turbines coatings for improved thermal efficiency. In summary, bulk nanocomposite through plasma spray processing is a viable alternative to conventional processes such as sintering, HIP for high fracture toughness and hardness applications.


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Graduation Date





Seal, Sudipta


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Program

Materials Science and Engineering








Release Date

May 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)