Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, is being used to look inside aero-engine materials and components, right down to the scale of atoms.
Engineers strive to get a better understanding of how their manufacturing materials behave on the nanoscale when submitted to the stresses and strains they would typically experience in service. This knowledge can help designers and researchers identify the best currently available materials for the job, and also to develop new materials that will help improve safety and efficiency.
|The Oxford group with the I12 beamline team on the beamline|
Results published today (11th May 2010) in the scientific journal Materials Letters report on the materials deformation analysis capabilities of a new facility at Diamond, the Joint Engineering, Environmental and Processing (JEEP) beamline. The authors were the first to use the JEEP beamline; a team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science led by Professor Alexander Korsunsky, who was also Chair of the group that initially put forward the scientific case for JEEP. The in-house team of scientists working on the JEEP beamline was also involved in this research project.
Professor Alexander Korsunsky and his group are interested in investigating stresses and strains in materials used for aerospace applications. Diamond’s JEEP beamline (I12) provided them with exceptionally bright polychromatic X-ray beams that will allow carrying out high resolution strain measurements, including on real engine components. The material sample under investigation for the first experiment was a titanium alloy (Ti-6Al-4V) which is commonly used for aero-engine components due to its high strength, low density and good corrosion resistance.
Research student, Felix Hofmann, explains what they were looking at.
Materials used in complex engineering systems, such as jet engines, are exposed to extreme loadings and hazardous environments – something that was brought to everyone’s attention by the consequences of the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland. The response of these materials to stresses, temperatures and chemical substances is of ongoing concern to designers and researchers alike. We used JEEP to gather X-ray diffraction patterns from a residually-stressed sample of a titanium alloy used to make the blades of the fan at the very front of the engine. The exceptional accuracy delivered by JEEP allowed us to detect small differences in the deformation response of this material when loaded in tension and compression. The insight obtained will provide important new information for the prediction of safe engine operation conditions.”
Felix Hofmann, University of Oxford
Pleased with the first results from JEEP, the leader of the Oxford-based research group, Professor Alexander Korsunsky, says, “We were delighted to confirm that the new beamline delivers the excellent performance we were expecting. The new “horseshoe” solid state detector developed in-house provided excellent signal-to-noise ratio, and enabled rapid and efficient data collection. The recent paper is devoted to the analysis of just one quarter of the volume of data we gathered during our beamtime, but it allowed us to demonstrate the capacity of the new beamline for materials deformation analysis. We are now in the process of analysing the rest of our data from other samples and will be publishing the results at a later date.”
Dr Michael Drakopoulos is the Principal Beamline Scientist for JEEP.
“It is exciting to see the beamline up and running and successfully producing quality results. It is thanks to the dedication and hard work of the beamline team and the support of our user community that we have reached this milestone after four years of design, construction and commissioning. For the next few months we will remain in a commissioning phase, welcoming experienced users to help us to optimize the internal experimental hutch of the JEEP beamline whilst completing the fit-out of the second, external experimental hutch, where large-scale engineering and processing experiments can be performed. When fully operational, JEEP will be able to accommodate a broad range of high-energy X-ray experiments, delivering a wide variety of techniques; from imaging and tomography, to X-ray diffraction and small angle X-ray scattering.”
Dr Michael Drakopoulos, Diamond Light Source
JEEP is part of the second phase of construction at Diamond which is due to be complete in 2012. The further four Phase II beamlines scheduled to be added over the next two years, and the following ten Phase III beamlines, will bring the total of operational beamlines at Diamond to 32 by 2017, covering a wide range of science; from biology and medicine, to the physical and chemical sciences, through to the environmental and engineering.
This research was published in Materials Letters 64 (2010) 1724-1727. Polycrystal deformation analysis by high energy synchrotron X-ray diffraction on the I12 JEEP beamline at Diamond Light Source.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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