Research & Projects

Thin-film materials and coatings are essential to countless state-of-the-art technologies we use every day. Whether a hard coating protects a tool from premature wear or a semiconducting thin film enables the touch functionality of a smart phone, many recent technological advancements were enabled by thin-film technology.

The Coating Technologies group has a long-standing expertise in physical vapor deposition (PVD) of functional thin-films and coatings, with a particular focus on plasma-based processes. Employing a variety of deposition techniques, such as reactive radio frequency magnetron sputtering or high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (HiPIMS) allows us to tailor the synthesis environment for a large range of materials and applications. Our goal is to understand the synthesis-structure-property relationships in these processes to develop thin-film materials and coatings with improved properties, but also to synthesize entirely new functional materials, such as high-energy metastable phases. To this end, we combine our expertise in thin-film deposition with state-of-the art surface analysis and materials characterization.

Research topics (selected):

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Non-equilibrium physical vapor deposition (PVD):

  • Deposition of inorganic thin films with tailored properties
  • Reactive sputtering of oxides and nitrides (e.g. ceramics or semiconductors)
  • Synthesis of metastable materials (e.g. high-pressure polymorphs)

 

Interface design during physical vapor deposition:

  • Coatings with improved adhesion properties (e.g. for medical implants)
  • Deposition on delicate substrates (e.g. polymers or metastable materials)
  • Tailoring of the electronic structure (e.g. semiconductor band alignments)

 

Accelerated materials discovery & design:

  • Synthesis in complex phase spaces (e.g. multinary alloys or compounds)
  • Rapid (co-)optimization of materials' properties
  • Computationally guided discovery of new functional materials