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Real time observation of coatings tribological behaviour

Mark Gee, NPL Fellow, discusses real time in situ observation of the failure of advanced coatings

1 minute read

Surface engineering and advanced coatings can provide tremendous benefits in terms of improved performance and efficiency savings. It is therefore important that coatings and surface treatments are optimised to achieve the best results. The research described in Science Direct focuses on the way that real time in situ measurement techniques can be used to observe the tribological behaviour of coatings and reveal the mechanisms that occur enabling the correlations of these mechanisms to the microstructure of the materials that are being tested. The understanding that is gained by these experiments can then be used to improve the design of the coatings and surface treatments by the surface engineering industry. The performance and efficiency savings that result will help to enable take up of these new technologies by diverse industrial sectors including road and air transport, power generation, and manufacturing, driving clean growth and sustainable use of materials.

The research also examined the application of the world leading NPL test systems. These enable real time observation of the mechanisms of damage in tribological contacts, where the highlight was the high-resolution in situ observations in the SEM, of the fracture and delamination of a DLC coating from the substrate when subjected to damage from a sharp asperity.

The next step in the development of the research will be to improve the reliability of the test system and introduce artificial intelligence into the control system, to achieve a digitally enabled metrology for engineered surfaces.

 Mark Gee, NPL Fellow said “It is a real breakthrough to be able to visualise what actually takes place in a tribological contact as it happens. Before now only limited information could be obtained through a laborious and time-consuming series of experiments.”

The video shows a progressive failure of DLC coating in in-situ real time testing and covers a width of 40 micrometres

Find out more about Mark Gee

Find out more about NPL's work with material

10 Nov 2022