Friday, April 1, 2011

NASA PS-PVD: Plasma Spray-Physical Vapour Deposition

Inside the Plasma Spray-Physical Vapour Deposition, or PS-PVD, ceramic powder is introduced into the plasma flame, which vapourises it and then condenses it on the object, to form the ceramic coating.

The PS-PVD rig at NASA's Glenn Research Center uses new technology to create super thin ceramic coatings, which are being developed to protect high efficiency engines.

The coatings created in the PS-PVD rig are thinner and more complex than those previously available.

The PS-PVD rig uses a system of vacuum pumps and a blower to remove air from the chamber, reducing the pressure inside to fraction of normal atmospheric pressure. The plasma flame is extremely hot and reaches 10,000 degrees Celsius.

Ceramic powder is introduced from the torch into the plasma flame. The plasma vapourises the ceramic powder, which then condenses 5 feet away from the torch onto the component to form the ceramic coating.

Plasma, neither a gas, liquid or a solid, is the fourth state of matter and often behaves like a gas, except that it conducts electricity and is affected by magnetic fields. On an astronomical scale, plasma is very common.

The sun is composed of plasma, fire is plasma, fluorescent and neon lights contain small amounts of plasma. NASA’s PS-PVD rig is one of only two such facilities in the country and one of four in the world.

Image Credit: NASA/Marvin G. Smith (Wyle Information Systems LLC)

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