Carles Corbella, a researcher from the GW Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been working on a new research line known as Coatings and Biomaterials meet Ionized Gases (C-BIG). C-BIG aims at developing three thrusts at SEAS related to applications of pulsed plasma discharges for material processing:
The first segment will leverage low-pressure energetic plasmas to coat or process irregular, micro-structured, and porous surfaces with atomic precision. The inherent flexibility of plasma methods for materials design and fabrication has been essential for industry in the last decades. High-power pulsed magnetron sputtering is an advanced physical vapor deposition technology with great potential to produce hard, dense coatings that exhibit excellent uniformity in complex topographies. This project is intended to develop transversal activities across SEAS, like advanced fabrication of nanodevices and surface texturing for energy and environmental applications.
The second thrust will focus on fundamental processes in thermal plasmas leading to nanosynthesis. Arc discharges sustained at atmospheric pressure are a form of plasma that is widely used in welding and material processing due to the high temperature released that causes the fast evaporation of any material. Currently, there is an urgent need to improve nanosynthesis recipes to increase throughput and material control properties. Here we aim at producing and characterizing new forms of arc discharge suited for the synthesis of nanomaterials with extreme physicochemical properties, such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, and atomic monolayers of compound materials.
The third project is devoted to designing new plasma sources operated at atmospheric pressure and room temperature. Plasma jet sources constitute cost-effective, portable devices that are used for surface treatment and medical practices among other applications. Such plasmas are able to be ignited in small cavities and projected by a flow of helium to open air in the form of a plasma jet or afterglow. We are working on platforms of parallel plasma jets generated from a source whose geometry can be adapted to a target with an arbitrary surface profile. This research will benefit energy applications as well as healthcare by conceiving multi-jet sources to pattern surfaces showing arbitrary topologies and/or delicate mechanical properties, like organic tissues and biomaterials.
According to Carles, “C-BIG is still in its infancy at GW and we hope it will grow up to face the greatest challenges in nano/biomaterials science and plasma technology. This line has already been endorsed by researchers from BME, CEE, ECE, and MAE Departments, and it will also be supported by experts from international institutions and universities. Please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] if you want to know more details about this line of work.”