“In order to extend engine service life, it is critical to first understand mechanisms of failure, and then to use insights to design circumvention strategies,” Carter noted.
Using Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant money to support her proposal, “High Temperature Evolution and Multiscale Modeling of the Roles of Impurities and Dopants on Thermal Barrier Coating Failure,” Carter and team first conducted some fundamental calculations which revealed the weak links in the coating along with some characteristics of how the coating falls apart.
“We are looking at the atomic scale and trying to understand what are the chemical and physical properties of the multi-layered coating that can lead to the failure of this coating,” Carter pointed out.
“We figured out what part of the coating fails and why,” she said. “After which, the team set out to re-engineer a new coating based on their findings.
The team did this by essentially inserting different kinds of atoms at the weak link they had discovered in the coating, explained Carter.
As the research continued, Carter’s team verified their findings.
“We showed on the computer that our hypothesis was verified,” Carter said. “In other words, we showed that these re-designed coatings were much more stable.”
The next step is to find out how these coatings respond to high temperatures.
“It would also be really nice to make it so that these coatings are more robust at higher temperatures so that you could use them for faster airplanes with higher thrust and greater fuel efficiency,” she said.
Over the years Carter has received a variety of Air Force Office of Scientific Research grants to support her research. Much of the groundwork for Carter’s current project evolved from funded research she conducted while at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) between 1988 and 2004.