Surface Engineering

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


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 economic and environmental benefits.

Within Surface Engineering technology area, Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) methods offer a wide choice of metallic and ceramic coatings with superior aesthetics and enhanced mechanical performance. PVD technology has been established as a scalable industrial technology providing high quality coatings through environmentally friendly and repeatable process. To achieve an optimum coating durability and performance, PVD thin films are usually deposited on metallic substrates which can provide good mechanical support and optimum adhesion at the coating/substrate interface. Polymer substrates are used less often, mainly in the decorative coatings industry, where the mechanical requirements for the coating/substrate system are less important. Polymer substrates are also more challenging for the coating deposition process due to temperature and electrical conductivity limitations.

The aim of the proposed Ph.D. project is to leverage the framework for applying and assessing the potential of functional coatings on polymer substrates to lead towards some more P&G specific applications. The work will aim to create functional coatings on materials and structural feature sizes commonly encountered in additive manufacturing.

The coating deposition process on photo-curable acrylate, urethane and epoxy based resins and nano-particulate composite substrates will be investigated to determine thermal and mechanical properties of the cured resins, develop pre-treatment processes that make these substrates suitable to PVD coating techniques and coat polymer substrates without destroying the substrate.

The potential for coating complex features on polymer surfaces with micron size features will be assessed through structuring polymer surfaces using a variety of micro-fabrication and surface engineering techniques, evaluation of the coating by techniques from nano to micro scale and understanding the limitations in terms of aspect ratio, feature size/proximity.

Coatings will be optimised for maximum adhesion and bending strength of the system in response to forces that act in a real applications. The study will develop a realistic function simulator to guide the design process. The student will be responsible for ensuring that the data collected can be used to assess functionality aligned to the final objective to this work.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509243/1 01/10/2015 31/03/2021
1812415 Studentship EP/N509243/1 01/10/2016 31/01/2021 Frank Dangnan