Modified metals for space engineering produced in submilliseconds

Modified metals for space engineering produced in submilliseconds

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University and the Institute of High Current Electronics, SB RAS, have developed a method to apply wear-resistant coatings on metals, followed by fusing them in the substrate. Such modified materials, through a combination of lightness, strength and corrosion resistance, can be used in mechanical engineering, aviation and space engineering.

The new materials are based on aluminum and silumin - an alloy of aluminum and silicon.

“These metals have low weight, good corrosion resistance. To use them in air and space engineering we only need to modify their strength and tribological properties: to improve hardness and wear resistance,” says Maria Rygina, a graduate student of the TPU Department of Nanomaterials and Nanotechnologies.

As coatings polytechnicers use titanium, titanium nitride and silumin containing 25% of silicon. The peculiarity of the developed method is that the coating is not deposited on a substrate and but fused into it by means of intense pulsed electron beam. Experimental studies have shown that it resulted in almost six-fold improvement in the hardness of metal and three times - wear resistance.

“World’s experts on materials science remark that now the main challenge is adhesion between coating and substrate. If coating is simply deposited, then it can be easily removed. Foreign research teams are looking for a solution to this issue by forming multi-layer coating. However, multi-layer deposition takes a long time.

We offer fusing coating in substrate: this takes microseconds, and adhesion is significantly improved,” says the project’s scientific head, professor at the TPU Department of Nanomaterials and Nanotechnologies Yuri Ivanov.

To form coatings by such a method is possible due to specific electron-ion-plasma installations created by the scientists from IHCE SB RAS and TPU. As the developers say, the installations are unique and they are supplied to Japan, China, Canada.

According to Maria Rygina, modified metals can be used for manufacturing internal mechanisms’ parts in spacecrafts: it is they which are the most wearable. Currently this method is used in the production of woodworking tools and components for mechanical engineering.”