Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name



Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Northwood, Derek

Second Advisor

Nie, Xueyuan


Coating Mechanisms, Crossion, growth behaviour, Optical Emission Spectroscopy, Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation, Structur-Performance




Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation (PEO) is a high voltage plasma-assisted oxidation process uses an environmentally-friendly aqueous electrolyte to oxidize the metal surfaces to form ceramic oxide coatings which impart a high corrosion and wear resistance. One of the main advantages of PEO process is that it can be applied to treat samples with complex shapes, and surfaces with different composition and microstructure. The PEO process of Mg alloys is strongly influenced by such parameters as electrolyte composition and concentration, current or voltage applied and substrate alloy. Generally, these parameters have a direct influence on the discharging behavior. The discharges play an essential role in the formation and resulting composition of the 3-layer oxide structure. A detailed knowledge of the coating mechanisms is extremely important in order to produce a desired coating quality to reach the best performance of the PEO coatings in terms of corrosion resistance and tribological properties (wear rate, COF). During PEO processing of magnesium, some of the metal cations are transferred outwards from the substrate and react with anions to form ceramic coatings. Also, due to the high electric field in the discharge channels, oxygen anions transfer towards the magnesium substrate and react with Mg2+ cations to form a ceramic coating. Although, in general, PEO coating of Mg alloys produces the three-layered structure, the relative proportions of the three-layers are strongly influenced by the PEO processing parameters. In PEO process, the ceramic coating grows inwards to the alloy substrate and outwards to the coating surface simultaneously. For the coating growth, there are three simultaneous processes taking place, namely the electrochemical, the plasma chemical reactions and thermal diffusion. Optical emission spectroscopy (OES) was employed for the discharge characterization by following the substrate and electrolyte element present in the plasma discharge during the coating growth, and to determine plasma electron temperatures. The coating requirements for good tribological properties are somewhat different than for good corrosion performance. However, good tribological performance combined with good corrosion performance can be obtained through control of the PEO processing parameters.