Document Type



Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Arvind Agarwal

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Norman D. H. Munroe

Third Advisor's Name

Wonbong Choi

Fourth Advisor's Name

Wenzhi Li


Process Maps, Aluminum Oxide, Carbon Nanotube, Composites, Plasma Spraying, Mechanical Properties, Wear

Date of Defense



Plasma sprayed aluminum oxide ceramic coating is widely used due to its outstanding wear, corrosion, and thermal shock resistance. But porosity is the integral feature in the plasma sprayed coating which exponentially degrades its properties. In this study, process maps were developed to obtain Al2O3-CNT composite coatings with the highest density (i.e. lowest porosity) and improved mechanical and wear properties. Process map is defined as a set of relationships that correlates large number of plasma processing parameters to the coating properties. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were added as reinforcement to Al2O3 coating to improve the fracture toughness and wear resistance. Two novel powder processing approaches viz spray drying and chemical vapor growth were adopted to disperse CNTs in Al2O3 powder. The degree of CNT dispersion via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) was superior to spray drying but CVD could not synthesize powder in large amount. Hence optimization of plasma processing parameters and process map development was limited to spray dried Al2O3 powder containing 0, 4 and 8 wt. % CNTs. An empirical model using Pareto diagram was developed to link plasma processing parameters with the porosity of coating. Splat morphology as a function of plasma processing parameter was also studied to understand its effect on mechanical properties. Addition of a mere 1.5 wt. % CNTs via CVD technique showed ~27% and ~24% increase in the elastic modulus and fracture toughness respectively. Improved toughness was attributed to combined effect of lower porosity and uniform dispersion of CNTs which promoted the toughening by CNT bridging, crack deflection and strong CNT/Al2O3 interface. Al2O3-8 wt. % CNT coating synthesized using spray dried powder showed 73% improvement in the fracture toughness when porosity reduced from 4.7% to 3.0%. Wear resistance of all coatings at room and elevated temperatures (573 K, 873 K) showed improvement with CNT addition and decreased porosity. Such behavior was due to improved mechanical properties, protective film formation due to tribochemical reaction, and CNT bridging between the splats. Finally, process maps correlating porosity content, CNT content, mechanical properties, and wear properties were developed.



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