A new spallation mechanism of thermal barrier coatings and a generalized mechanical model

Multilayer thermal barrier coating (TBC) systems typically consist of three layers of materials: A thermal barrier top coat (TC), a thermally-grown oxide (TGO), and a bond coat (BC) in addition to the substrate. Local strain energy concentrations, called ‘pockets of energy concentration (PECs)’ in this work, often occur around the interface between the TGO and the BC. They have various causes, including local phase changes, and non-uniform creep and plastic relaxation. It is discovered that both PECs and buckling drive the spallation of a TBC in a new spallation mechanism. A PEC-based mechanical model is developed that describes, explains and predicts how blisters nucleate in a TBC under constant biaxial compressive residual stress, steadily and then unsteadily grow, and finally spall off. Two conditions are established for the occurrence of TBC spallation, which depend on the compressive residual strain energy density in the TC and the TGO, and the interface fracture toughness. Experimental validation of the model was performed using aircraft jet engine turbine blades with electron beam physical vapor deposition (EBPVD) TBCs. The predictions from the developed PEC-based mechanical model for the radii of spallation in the TBC are in a good agreement with experiment results.