Modified metals for space engineering produced in microseconds

Maria Rygina and prof Yuri Ivanov
Russian scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) and the Institute of High Current Electronics have developed a method to apply wear-resistant coatings on metals by followed fusing them in substrates. Such modified materials, through a combination of lightness, strength and corrosion resistance, could be used in mechanical engineering, aviation and space engineering.

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

Maria Rygina, graduate student of the TPU Department of Nanomaterials and Nanotechnologies, said: “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,”

The coating is not deposited on substrate but fused into it by means of an intense pulsed electron beam. Experimental studies have shown that it has resulted in an almost six-fold improvement in the hardness of the metal and three times greater wear resistance.

“Now the main challenge is adhesion between coating and substrate. If coating is simply deposited, then it can be easily removed,” added Professor Yuri Ivanov, the project’s scientific head. “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,”

According to the scientists, modified metals can be used for manufacturing internal mechanism parts in spacecraft. Currently this method is used in the production of woodworking tools and components for mechanical engineering.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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