Corujeira Gallo, Santiago (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Low temperature plasma surface engineering has been a useful method for increasing the hardness and wear resistance of austenitic stainless steel without reducing the corrosion resistance of this alloy. Plasma carburising is of particular interest as it produces thicker hardened layers than plasma nitriding, and an equivalent improvement in the tribological and corrosion performance of the base material. In this project, the active screen (AS) plasma technique was used to carburise austenitic stainless steel AISI 316 and the obtained layer of carbon expanded austenite was compared with the one produced by conventional DC plasma treatments. The hardening and wear resistance produced by AS and DC plasma carburising were equivalent. With regard to corrosion, the AS treated material performed better than its DC counterpart as a consequence of the improved surface quality of the former. The mechanism of AS carburising was comparatively studied with its AS nitriding counterpart. Different experimental arrangements and two plasma diagnostic techniques were used for this purpose: optical emission spectroscopy and electrostatic probes. The evidence shows that AS nitriding relies on the deposition of iron nitrides and the active species in the plasma to produce hardening, whilst AS carburising requires the plasma activation and moderate ion bombardment.
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