Precursor plasma spray synthesis is an innovative and rapid method to make functional oxide ceramic coatings by starting from solution precursors and directly producing inorganic films. This emerging method, utilizes molecularly mixed precursor liquids, which essentially avoids the handling and selection of powders, opening up new avenues for developing compositionally complex functional oxide coatings. Precursor plasma spray also offers excellent opportunities in exploring the non-equilibrium phase evolution during plasma spraying of multi-component oxides from inorganic precursors. Although there have been efforts in this area since the 1980s and early 1990s with the goal of synthesizing nanoparticles, only recently has the work progressed in the area of functional systems. At the Center for Thermal Spray Research an integrated investigative strategy has been conducted to explore the benefits and limits of this synthesis strategy. Water and alcohol based sol/solution precursors derived from various chemical synthesis methods were used as feedstocks to deposit thin/thick films of spherical and nanostructured coatings of yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG), yttrium iron garnet (YIG), lanthanum strontium manganite (LSM) and Zr-substituted yttrium titanates, compositions of Y2O3-Al2O3 and their microstructural space centered around stochiometric YAG. A detailed discussion of the salient features of RF induction plasma spraying (RFPPS) approach, results obtained in the investigations to develop various functional oxide coatings and process issues and challenges are presented.

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