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Excimer laser surface treatment of aluminum alloy in nitrogen

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The excimer laser nitriding process reported is developed to enhance the mechanical and chemical properties of aluminum alloys. An excimer laser beam is focused onto the alloy surface in a cell containing 1-bar nitrogen gas. A vapor plasma expands from the surface and a shock wave dissociates and ionizes nitrogen. It is assumed that nitrogen from plasma in contact with the surface penetrates to some depth. Thus it is necessary to work with a sufficient laser fluence to create the plasma, but this fluence must be limited to prevent laser-induced surface roughness. The nitrogen-concentration profiles are determined from Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy coupled to energy-dispersive X-ray analysis. Crystalline quality is evidenced by an X-ray diffraction technique. Transmission electron microscopy gives the in-depth microstructure. Fretting coefficient measurements exhibit a lowering for some experimental conditions. The polycrystalline nitride layer obtained is several micrometers thick and composed of a pure AlN (columnar microstructure) top layer (200–500 nm thick) standing on an AlN (grains) in alloy diffusion layer. From the heat conduction equation calculation it is shown that a 308-nm laser wavelength would be better to increase the nitride thickness, as it corresponds to a weaker reflectance R value for aluminum.

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Received: 17 October 2000 / Accepted: 19 October 2000 / Published online: 23 May 2001

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Sicard, E., Boulmer-Leborgne, C., Andreazza-Vignolle, C. et al. Excimer laser surface treatment of aluminum alloy in nitrogen . Appl Phys A 73, 55–60 (2001).

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