Atmospheric Pressure Plasmas
Creating a plasma has traditionally required the use of vacuum chambers to achieve low gas pressures. However, it is actually possible to create plasmas at atmospheric pressures as well. The absence of vacuum chambers opens up an exciting new range of manufacturing possibilities, including higher volume and higher throughput processes. CPMI works with its industry partners to develop new ways to utilize atmospheric pressure plasmas for materials surface modifications.
Multilayer Zirconia/Silica Deposition
Working with General Motors, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s SERDP program, CPMI researchers are developing a novel technique to apply coatings to vehicles and weapons using an atmospheric plasma torch.
Applying multilayer films of ZrO and SiO helps to protect materials from the natural elements. ZrO acts as a passivation layer to create resistance to corrosion, and SiO works as a water barrier. Uniform Zirconia coatings (100-200 nm) have been obtained using the atmospheric plasma torch, and the SiO’s resistance to water soaking has been tested.
Carbon/Metal Composite Deposition
CPMI researchers working with LyTen are using an atmospheric plasma torch to deposit mixed carbon-metal composites. Surface modifications of materials can actually impact their bulk properties, and the goal of this research is to improve thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties of things ranging from electrical lines to batteries and heat exchangers. Experiments will be developed with different composites, including copper, aluminum, and silver.