Accurate knowledge of the operating temperature of thermal barrier coatings (TBCs) is not currently available, therefore significant safety margins are employed during operation of gas turbines, which limit the engine efficiency. Recently, phosphorescent sensor TBCs have been used to detect coating temperatures with a reported accuracy under isothermal conditions up to 4 K. However, the thermal gradient through a TBC in modern gas turbines is of the order of 1 K μm-1. The interpretation of the temperature provided by a sensor coating therefore requires a better understanding of the through thickness response of the material. Kubelka-Munk theory has been adapted to describe the light propagation and generation through the thickness of a sensor coating. The model indicates that the temperature measurement can be considered to come from a depth of 17 μm below the surface, depending on the coating type, thermal gradient and coating thickness. As such, the coating can be designed to suit the application, and the temperature variation due to the thermal gradient and coating thickness can be limited to 1%. Where coating design is restricted by its application, the sensor material can be embedded within the coating to avoid measurement errors due to thermal gradients, provided the sensor layer is sufficiently thin. This, however, causes a significant reduction in emission intensity, hence reducing the signal-to-noise ratio, and necessitating a compromise between signal amplitude and measurement accuracy.
- phosphor thermometry
- thermal barrier coatings