Why thin films and coatings?
Whether you use your computer, tablet or smartphone, whether your car consumes less gasoline because of low gear friction, or whether your eyeglasses look good because they are not reﬂecting lights, there are always thin ﬁlms and coatings that make these everyday products functioning. Thin ﬁlms and coatings enable us to render the properties of the zones near a surface to be very diﬀerent from the underlying material. Hard coatings may protect the underlying softer part from premature wear. The electronic properties of thin ﬁlms in microelectronics are very diﬀerent from those of the underlying silicon wafer. And the bio-response of surface-treated implants is speciﬁcally tuned for optimal acceptance by human cell tissue. The development of new thin ﬁlms and their combinations therefore often pave the way towards products that ease our daily lives.
The Coating Technologies group focuses on the fabrication of thin ﬁlm materials with enhanced functional properties using advanced deposition processes with the aim to drive innovations in diﬀerent ﬁelds ranging from hard-coatings to ceramics and compound semiconductors. Of particular interest for our research are high-energy non-equilibrium physical vapor deposition techniques such as high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS). Recent activities in this area include the development of piezoelectric nitrides as well as the metallization of polymer implants for improved osseo-integration. You will ﬁnd more information about the main research topics of the group here. The group is furthermore embedded in a larger Empa coating research community applying coating technologies in various domains and applications.
The group owns several coating machines and has access to state-of-the-art characterization equipment. The coatings are fabricated mainly by plasma-based deposition techniques such as conventional magnetron sputtering, or ionized physical vapor deposition processes such as high-impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS). The transfer from lab to applications is made possible through the use of both medium scale industrial coating machines as well as lab-scale UHV sputter deposition systems. A comprehensive infrastructure for high-throughput combinatorial experiments furthermore accelerates the development of new thin film materials. The group provides coating and analytical services in combination with research activities for internal and external academic partners as well as for industrial partners. You will ﬁnd more information about the equipment and services of the group here.