Nanostructured coatings of Al2O3 and ZrO2 (1.5% Y2O5) are produced by suspension plasma spraying, introducing the liquid feedstock internally into the central part of three converging plasma jets of a Mettech Axial III torch (Northwest Mettech Corp.). Spraying nanosized ceramic powders in a liquid carrier can yield thinner coatings with more refined microstructures than conventional plasma spraying. In-flight particle states are measured for a number of plasma conditions of varying torch current, gas flow rates and compositions (Ar, H2, N2), and related to the resulting microstructure and phase composition in the coatings, as determined by EDS, SEM and XRD. Results show that particle velocities up to 600 m/sec can be reached, yielding high impact velocities and cooling rates. Some comparison is made to previous work performed using external injection of a suspension droplet stream into a conventional dc plasma flame. At optimized conditions, dense γ-Al2O3 deposits with an average crystallite size below 30 nm are obtained at deposition efficiency above 80%, which was not previously attainable. Eutectic alumina-zirconia composite coatings with a finely layered lamellar structure are also realized. The laminates have potential advantages as thermal barrier coatings with beneficial properties arising from nano-composite components.

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