Future Trends

As with any emerging technology, the vacuum arc will displace existing approaches only when a compelling advantage can be demonstrated. Situations in which extremely good adhesion is desired can represent opportunities for the vacuum arc process. Adhesion of copper to glass with bond strengths sufficient to fracture the glass during a pull test have been reported (Ref 20). Applications that require an efficient process for rapidly depositing refractory metal coatings can be opportune for the cathodic arc. This technology should be particularly attractive in situations where the presence of a small number of macroparticles does not present difficulties. It may also be attractive for producing hard, amorphous diamond coatings for various tribological applications. There are also numerous potential applications for corrosion-barrier coatings. Examples include coatings on fibers used in metal-matrix composites and protective coatings for turbine blades (Ref 1). Filtered arcs can produce very high-quality ceramic coatings at high deposition rates (Ref 21) because of the high reactivity of the ions.

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