Characterization Study of Plasma Spray Attachment of Intrinsic Fabry-Perot Interferometric Sensors in Power Generation Applications

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this study is to characterize the plasma spray deposits used for attaching intrinsic Fabry-Perot interferometric fiber optic strain sensors. The deposits must maintain adhesion at elevated temperatures without distorting the sensors' signals. Two different material systems were tested and modeled, a nickel based alloy and yttria-stabilized zirconia. The material properties of the deposits and the thermal stresses in the system were evaluated to determine attachment lifetime of the sensors.

The encapsulated sensors' signals were collected before and after plasma spraying and at elevated temperatures. The material properties of the deposits were evaluated by electron microscopy, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, scratch testing, thermal fatigue testing, and nanoindentation. The thermal stresses were evaluated by Raman spectroscopy and from finite element analysis in COMSOL® Multiphysics®. Several of the sensors broke during encapsulation due to the plasma spray processing conditions and the signals experienced distortion at elevated temperatures. The sensors can be treated to remove this interference to allow for this deposit attachment. The nickel based alloy's ductility and lamellar microstructure allowed for non catastrophic relaxation mechanisms to relieve induced thermal stresses. The yttria stabilized zirconia failed catastrophically at elevated temperatures due its lack of compliance to mismatches in thermal expansion. A high melting point metallic deposit, similar to the nickel based alloy, is desirable for fiber optic sensor attachment due to its ductility, thermal expansion, and dominant relaxation mechanisms. The processing conditions may need to be optimized to allow for the sensors' protection during encapsulation.



attachment method, plasma spray coatings, fiber optic sensors