Nanostrukturierte Materialien  
Nanocomposites & Nanoparticles
Nanostructured Thin Films & Coatings
Micro- & Nanofabrication
Micro- & Nanocharacterization

Nano-structured Thin Films and Coatings

Modern life, as we experience it today, would not be possible without thin films and coatings. Owing to their small thickness, these films are almost invisible to the naked eye or buried below other surface lay-ers. Nevertheless, their impact on electronic, optical, mechanical or biological properties of a material or device can be tremendous. For example, integrated electronics based communication tools and comput-ers entirely rely on thin films. The materials science and engineering of Thin Films comprises also inter-face engineering which is essential to optimize adhesion and performance of various kinds of thin films, e.g. in solar cells, other electronic devices and many other applications. Fuel-efficient automobiles require low friction engine parts with designed thin films. Special coatings are also needed for processing tools. Optical coatings for energy-efficient windows or antireflection properties are further applications among many others.

Empa covers a large fraction of these aspects in its Research Focus Area “Thin Films and Coatings”. In particular, the following topics at Empa are addressed:


Hard coatings, piezoelectric and magnetic thin films
Diamond-like carbon, hardness-enhanced nanocomposites, Magnetron sputtering, PACVD, arc evapora-tion, thermal evaporation, plasma-assisted processes, structural analysis, surface and interface analysis,
piezoelectric devices, wear resistant tool coatings, tribological and medical coatings.


Self-assembly of organic materials in thin films and self-assembled monolayers
Organic polymers, ionic and non-ionic dyes, chiral organic molecules. Polymer phase separation, dewetting processes, vacuum and solution deposition. Organic photovoltaic and photonic devices, organic light-emitting devices, enantiomer-selective processes.


Nanoporous functional plasma polymers
Plasma polymers with N and O functionalities, plasma polymerization, metallic nanoparticles, webcoating, functional fibers, and textiles.


Surface properties of engineered materials
High-vacuum CVD, plasma spraying, EBSD, metallographic laboratory, wetting properties, photonic de-vices.


Electrodeposited nanostructured metals and semiconductors
Electrodeposition, Electroplating, galvanic processes, anodization processes, UV-lithography. NiCo, NiP alloys, ternary compounds of Fe-Ni-Cr, metallic (Co, Ni, Co, Pt, Au, etc.) nanowires and nanotubes. Mechanical, optical, electrical properties, optoelectronics, SERS, gas sensing.

Functional sol-gel films
Sol-gel synthesis, solution deposition, inkjet-printing, modified SILAR method, metal oxide materials, spinel and luminescent compounds (YAG, garnets), mixed oxide films, dip-coating, TCOs, glazing coat-ings, window coatings.


Nanostructured materials for photovoltaics
PVD, sputtering, spray coatings, sol-gel, selenization, PV cells and modules, transparent electrodes.


Living cell - Material interaction
Cell models, cell design for specific surfaces, cell interaction with surfaces, patterned cell arrays, antimi-crobial properties, drug resistance, functionalization of implants, soft tissue implants.

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