Surface Engineering
Surface Engineering & Materials Chemistry

SwRI has state-of-the-art equipment in place and technical personnel dedicated to facilitating access to research, development, and demonstration of PIII and PIIP technologies.

SwRI has state-of-the-art equipment in place and technical personnel dedicated to facilitating access to research, development, and demonstration of PIII and PIIP technologies.


The versatility of the “plasma” approach to surface modification allows the use of any gas with the same equipment.

The versatility of the “plasma” approach to surface modification allows the use of any gas with the same equipment.


Altering Material Surfaces to Prolong Service Life

The surface engineering program at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is a contract R&D and coating service for the practical treatment of materials and components using energetic ion beams.

Ion beams and plasmas, sometimes used in conjunction with coatings, provide an extensive range of surface engineering possibilities to protect material surfaces from:

  • Corrosion
  • Wear
  • Fatigue failure
  • Fretting
  • Oxidation

Surface Engineering Processes and Capabilities

Processes include ion implantation of gaseous ions and ion beam-assisted deposition (IBAD) of metals, ceramics, and diamond-like carbon (DLC).

The SwRI surface engineering capabilities are used by:

  • Manufacturers
  • Utility companies
  • Biomedical industry
  • Government agencies

Projects range from small-batch, single-day processing jobs to long-term research and development projects.

SwRI has two capabilities that allow non-line-of-sight coating and surface modification of materials with higher throughput and potentially lower cost:

  • Plasma Immersion Ion Implantation (PIII)
  • Plasma Immersion Ion Processing (PIIP)

The versatility of the "plasma" approach to surface modification allows the use of any gas with the same equipment.

Surface Engineering Facilities

Ten vacuum chambers, each approximately 6 feet long and 4 feet in diameter, allow processing of either large tooling or hundreds of smaller items. These surface engineering resources are currently being used to address client needs in a wide variety of areas including:

  • Friction and wear reduction in metal and ceramic components
  • Biocompatible and catalytic coatings
  • Treatments for corrosion and oxidation resistance

Learn more about Materials Chemistry.

Related Terminology

surface engineering  •  ion surface engineering  •  ions  •  ion beam assisted deposition  •  IBAD  •  diamond-like carbon  •  DLC  •  coatings  •  ceramics  •  plasma immersion ion processing  •  energetic ion beams  •  ion implantation  •  gaseous ions

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 10 technical divisions.
04/15/14