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Institute of Functional Surfaces

Surface Engineering

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Overview

Surface engineering is a critical technology, underpinning major industry sectors including aerospace, automotive, construction, the off-shore industries, power generation and bio-medical applications. Appropriate coatings can solve a diverse array of engineering problems and provide protection against corrosion, wear damage or high temperature, but these can also supply added-value, increasing economical and environmental benefits.

Current Research

A major challenge in modern surface engineering is to produce high durability surfaces with sufficient multi-functionality for today’s tribological challenges. This requirement can be currently provided as research in Surface Engineering area benefits from a unique Multi-Capability Coatings Technology Platform funded recently by EPSRC as a part of £1.6m equipment investment to Leeds University.

It was installed at the end of 2011 in newly refurbished Tribological Coatings Laboratory in School of Mechanical Engineering and is run by researchers from the Institute of Functional Surfaces.

The platform is the fruition of the past 20 years of technological development of plasma enhanced physical and chemical vapour deposition (PVD/CVD) technologies and the emergence of PVD/CVD hybrid coating deposition technologies. A unique configuration of the platform makes possible the creation of engineering devices and components with vastly improved nanostructured coating/substrate systems well beyond those within the state of the art.

The platform is a key manufacturing facility in terms of ability to provide tailored surface engineering solutions to specific problems across all major industrial sectors. Work with both, small scale experimental samples and full scale industrial components, is possible using the equipment.

Surface analysis techniques are an integral part of surface engineering design. These probe material surfaces providing information about physical, chemical and geometrical architectures. Several advanced surface analysis techniques are available in iFS: Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy, Atomic Force Microscope, FTIR, Nano-indentation.  These are augmented by peripheral attachments for mechanical characterisation under low loads and various imaging techniques.  The surface analysis facility is used on regular basis by iFS members, cross-University collaborators and external sponsors.  

Future Research

  • understanding the lubrication mechanism of porous elastic materials and developing a hydrophilic coating for lubricant retention;
  • developing functionalised nanostructured surface coatings with ability to respond to the specific working environment in nuclear, optical and electronics sectors;
  • introducing new design concept for the architecture of nanoscale multilayer coatings for flow assurance and corrosion protection in oil & gas applications;
  • understanding thermodynamics of thin film nucleation on rough complex geometries and textured surfaces;
  • applying current achievements in the field of self-healing composite materials to metallic materials by developing ‘smart’ surface properties.

Research Staff

Professor Anne Neville
Dr Ardian Morina
Dr Tomasz Liskiewicz
Dr Hongyuan Zhao
Dr Shahriar Kosarieh