Dr. Ronghua Wei
Since joining SwRI in 2001, Dr. Wei takes the responsibility of leading a research group in conducting research on plasma surface engineering and developing new technologies for the US government and industries worldwide. His research is focused on plasma enhanced magnetron sputtering (PEMS) and plasma immersion ion implantation & deposition (PIII&D) and high intensity plasma ion nitriding (HIPIN). At SwRI he has developed a new PEMS technology, by which ultra thick (500µm), ultra hard (>40GPa) nanocomposite coatings been accomplished. These coatings exhibit very high erosion resistance, about 7-10 times better than the state-of-the-art nitride coatings against sand erosion. These coatings show a great potential for protecting aero engine blades, steam turbine blades and components for petroleum-natural gas exploration and production. The PEMS technology won the R&D100 Award in 2009. SwRI has already signed licensing agreements with a number of commercial companies. The technology can be used for various industries including the aerospace, oil/petroleum, power generation and automotive. Dr. Wei has also developed a diamond-like carbon coating technology to deposit erosion/corrosion/abrasion resistant and hydrophobic coatings on the inner surface of long tubes (80ft long, the longest pipe ever deposited). This technology has led to a series of successful projects from a few oil/gas companies.