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Materials Engineering Group

Research / Surface Engineering

Materials Engineering

Welcome to the Surface Engineering webpage

Surfaces are pivotal to materials engineering in that they determine the interaction of one engineered component with another, whether it be in a mechanical, chemical, or fluidic system, or in a semiconductor device.

The surface state affects friction, wettability, adhesion, chemistry, electronic and optical properties.

Because it is the outer few layers of atoms that interact it is necessary to use extremely fine tools for cutting, shaping, and forming a material. For this reason the tool of choice is often one that uses individual atoms or molecules to do the ‘machining'

Surface engineering of this kind usually utilises a ‘technological plasma', involving the electrical breakdown of a gas to create ionised atoms and molecules that can perform useful engineering at the atomic scale.

A key feature of a technological plasma is that the constituent charged particles are ‘hotter' allowing the ability to perform chemistry at surfaces close to room temperature that wouldn't otherwise be possible conventionally without a high temperature processing method.

Plasmas play a pivotal role in the nanoscale etching, deposition, and modification of surface layers. Applications include nanofabrication, electrical engineering, lighting, and biocompatible films. These are essential to a broad range of industries including those involving micro-machining, semiconductor device fabrication, display equipment manufacture and the engineering of materials for medicine.

Current research interests include novel diagnostics for plasmas, modification of plasma properties, plasma control for layer deposition and etching, wafer bonding, plasma-surface interactions.

A range of surface analysis techniques are used, including X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS), electron microscopy (SEM, TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS).

Approaches to key individuals can be made using the following e-mail addresses:

Dr. Alec Goodyear (plasma surface processing and diagnostics)
Jan Kowal (MEMS wafer processing)

Dr Alec Goodyear                   Dr Jan Kowal


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