Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Electron beam for surface treatments

The advances of the modern industrial technology stem from the ongoing research activities for improving materials used. A Russian research institute developed an unequalled methodology for the surface treatment of materials. It involves a pulsed electron-beam and highly specialised techniques for irradiation of surfaces that substantially improve the strength, the electrochemical and the electrophysical properties of the materials and articles.
Electron beam for surface treatments
The equipment is an electron source that includes a plasma-filled diode with an explosive-emission cathode capable of producing a low-energy, high-current electron beam of microsecond duration. The developed techniques consist of the irradiation of the working surface, whereby surface melting and/or evaporation of the target material takes place. In this way, the surface layer becomes extremely smooth and the various undesirable substances, such as foreign inclusions, impurities, and gases are dispatched. Following the completed irradiation, an extremely rapid crystallisation of the melt occurs that is responsible for the enhanced characteristics of the material and articles.

The key application areas of the proposed technology are the strengthening and lengthening of the lifetime of hard-alloy tools and the surface alloying. Furthermore, the techniques may also be applied to optimise the fatigue features of compressor blades of gas turbine engines, to smooth and remove the heat-resistant protective coatings of aircraft engine blades, to improve the corrosion resistance and wear resistance of structural metallic materials and to upgrade the electric strength of vacuum insulation. Moreover, the e-beam technology could be quite useful in dentistry for smoothing and cleaning of denture surfaces.

Currently, there are two similar methods used for surface thermal treatment: high-power pulsed lasers or high-power ion beams. Compared to lasers, the new technique is more efficient in the energy absorption by the target and thus, more effective in its use. Additionally, the electron beam is more reliable and less expensive than lasers. Unlike the complex high-voltage equipment used for ion beams, the electron beam source is simpler, more reliable and safer, since the use of ion beams involves X-ray radiation hazards.

Further information is available on the website of the well-known Institute of High-Current Electronics:
Record Number: 80597 / Last updated on: 2005-09-18
Domain: Industrial Technologies