The Surfaces speciality focuses on acquiring, developing and transferring to industry a wide range of technologies related with improving the surface properties of materials, their characterisation and evaluation in service conditions.
One of the traditional activities in this area consists of the vapour phase deposition technologies, especially Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD). In this field we are seeing the development of hard anti-wear, oxidation-resistant coatings for tools and mechanical systems, anti-friction layers and decorative and anti-corrosion coatings as alternatives to those traditionally used in bathrooms, as the latter are often highly contaminating.
A well as developing new coating materials, this line of work also deals with the design and build the equipment needed for it to be applied in both the laboratory and industrially, having developed an innovative technology based on our own patents. Another line of work is plasma electro-oxidation, useful for simultaneously increasing the wear and corrosion resistance of light alloys (magnesium, titanium and aluminium).
New technologies and materials
We are also working with sol-gel technology to synthesise multifunctional coatings and we are developing new technologies for the chemical functionalisation of surfaces, allowing us to obtain surfaces with specific properties for catalytic and adsorptive applications. Other activities worthy of mention regarding surface chemistry include the development of polymer surfaces based on natural nanostructure reinforced polymers and new material for energy transformation and storage.
Characterisation of surfaces affects both their mechanical (adherence of coatings, surface hardness, elastic properties, etc.) and physicochemical properties (GDOES analysis, microscopic observation, SEM, etc.). In the Tribology field, we are developing protocols for measuring the friction coefficient and rate of wear, simulating different common situations as regards abrasion and adhesion, both alone and in the presence of vibrations (fretting) and corrosion.
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