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Thin Films and Interfaces

A section of Materials (ISSN 1996-1944).

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The use of nanometer to micrometer thickness thin film materials is widespread for technological applications, spanning from electronics through medicine. Thin film materials are able to exhibit a greater number of vastly different structural, chemical, electrical, optical, and mechanical properties compared to their corresponding bulk counterparts due to the choice of substrate or underlying material, the material deposition and fabrication process, and the resulting variations in crystal phase, disorder and defects within poly-/nano-crystalline and amorphous materials, strain, and composition. The very nature of thin films involves the formation of interfaces, including that with the substrate, underlying or overlying layers, and/or the ambient. These interfaces and interfacial regions may exhibit additional variations due to confinement, bonding configurations, chemical composition, exposure to ambient, physical mixing, and the morphology present. To enhance our understanding of the nature of thin films and interfaces, topics in this section include but are not limited to:

  1. Materials Fabrication and Modeling:
  • Thin film growth:
    • Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE);
    • Physical vapor deposition (PVD) and Sputtering;
    • Pulsed laser deposition (PLD);
    • Thermal and electron beam evaporation;
    • Atomic layer deposition (ALD);
    • Chemical vapor deposition (CVD);
    • Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD);
    • Solution methods and hybrid approaches;
  • Material post-deposition preparation, annealing, etching, and chemical treatments;
  • Theoretical and computational modeling of surfaces and interfaces.
  1. Characterization and Process–Property Relationships:
  • Identification of links between measured thin film and interface structural, chemical, electrical, optical, and mechanical properties with variations in fabrication conditions;
  • Epitaxial layers, nanocrystalline and polycrystalline materials, and amorphous films;
  • High surface area systems, including colloids, nanoparticles, grain boundaries, engineered thin films;
  • Surface science of catalysis, electrocatalysis, and photocatalysis;
  • Mechanics and nanomechanics of thin layers;
  • Thin film growth mechanisms;
  • In situ measurements and surface-sensitive measurements;
  • Condensed matter thin film behavior.
  1. Device Applications:
  • Impact of thin film and interface properties on functionality for electronic, optical, opto-electronic, photovoltaic, display, sensing, functional coating (metallurgical, protective, and hard layers; metallic, inorganic, organic, and composite coatings; superhydrophobic surfaces), and biological/biomedical applications (Langmuir–Blodgett, biological, related films).

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