Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Richard D. Sisson, Jr., Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Diran Apelian, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Danielle Cote, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Tim Eden, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Christian Widener, Committee Member




The objective of the thesis is to understand the particle/substrate interaction of micron-sized High Purity (HP) aluminum (Al) powder particles with varying surface oxide/hydroxide layers, during single particle impact and determine the critical impact velocity (CIV). Advancements in analytical techniques enable in-situ supersonic impact of individual metallic micro-particles on substrates with micro-scale and nanosecond-level resolution. This novel capability allowed direct observation and measurement of a material-dependent threshold velocity, above which the particle underwent impact-induced material ejection and adhered to the substrate, (critical impact velocity). The data was then compared to empirical, as well as predicted values of the CIV from published data that were based upon theoretical iso-entropic fluid dynamics models. A major emphasis of this research was to perform, in-depth characterization of the Al powder in the as-received, gas atomized state and subsequent to controlled temperature and humidity exposure (designed to form a prescribed oxide and/or hydroxide surface layer) and finally after single particle impact. Analytical techniques including XPS, ICP, IGF, TEM and SEM were performed to determine the species of oxide and/or hydroxide, bulk chemical composition, oxygen content and thickness of the surface oxide/hydroxide layer. Finally, bulk samples of material were produced by the cold spray process, from powder representing select test groups and subsequently characterized to determine tensile and hardness properties, chemistry, microstructure and conductivity. A fundamental understanding of the role of surface oxidization in relationship to particle deformation during impact and the bonding mechanism will be applicable toward the development of optimized parameters for the cold spray (CS) process. Results from this study will aid in the development of industrial practices for producing, packaging and storing Al powders.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Manufacturing Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted



Restricted-WPI community only


aluminum powder, bonding mechanism, cold spray, oxide

Available for download on Saturday, October 30, 2021