Non-destructive microwave evaluation of TBC delamination induced by acute angle laser drilling

H. K. Sezer, Lin Li, Z. Wu, B. Anderson, P. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Laser drilling has been applied to the production of cooling holes of various size and angles in the modern aerospace gas turbine components such as turbine blades, nozzle guide vanes, combustion chambers and afterburner. These parts are usually made of heat resistant nickel superalloys. The superalloy substrate is coated with yttria-stabilized zirconia thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) to protect them from reaching excessive temperatures in hot engine environments. Drilling the parts at acute angles to the surface is complicated because (i) multiple layers are being drilled through, (ii) the melt ejection and heat flow patterns around the hole are non-symmetrical and (iii) the drilling distance is greater than when drilling normal to the surface. In a previous investigation by the authors, delamination of TBC was addressed as a main problem of angled drilling and mechanisms involved were discussed. Characterization of delamination cracks was normally performed via metallographic techniques. It involves sectioning the samples using an abrasive cutting machine, grinding with successively finer silicon carbide paper up to the centre of the hole and polishing to allow optical microscopic analysis of the cracks. However, clamping and sectioning process of thermal-spray-coated workpieces can introduce cracks in brittle coatings due to the drag of the cut-off wheels. Hence, it is not possible to decide if the delamination is caused as a result of post-process sectioning or laser drilling. In this paper, a microwave non-destructive testing (NDT) technique is employed to evaluate the integrity of TBC after acute angle laser drilling. An Agilent 8510 XF network analyser operating over the frequency range of 45 MHz to 110 GHz was used to measure the amplitude and phase variations of scattered waves. The results significantly indicated the existence of delamination of 1-1.5 mm long at the TBC/substrate interface on the leading edge part of an acute-angled hole laser drilled using a 400 W Nd:YAG laser. © 2007 IOP Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number021
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages8
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Delamination
  • Laser drilling
  • Microwave non-destructive testing
  • Thermal barrier coatings


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