Interface Reactivity of Nanostructured Materials

Tailoring the (electro)chemical, electronic, optical, thermal and/or magnetic properties of surfaces and interfaces (i.e. phase and grain boundaries) in nanostructured multimaterials (e.g. thin-films, nanomultilayers, 2D membranes, nanopowders) is of paramount importance for a myriad of applications in the fields of corrosion, joining, microelectronics, medical implants, chemical sensing, ferroelectrics, capacitors, photovoltaics, photocatalysis, memristors and batteries. We aim at precise control of the bulk and interface microstructures of nanostructured multimaterials (as composed of metals, alloys, oxides, nitrides and/or carbides) in dependence of their synthesis, processing and service conditions, while accounting for inevitable materials heterogeneities arising from phase and grain boundaries, elemental impurities, porosity, internal stresses, as well as structural and electronic defects.


Fundamental comprehensive investigations of the role of surfaces and interfaces on the functional properties (e.g. dielectric constant, mechanical strength, thermal, ionic and electrical conductivity, electrochemical reactivity, chemical stability, biocompatibility, wettability, joinability, H-permeability, H-embrittlement, photocatalytic activity) of nanoarchitectured multimaterials as composed of  metals, alloys, oxides, nitrides and/or carbides. such as Fe/Fe2O3, Cr/Cr2O3/CrN/CrC, Cu/CuO/Cu2O, Mo/MoOx, W/WOx, Ti/TiO2/TiN/TiON, Al-alloys/Al2O3/AlN and Si/SiC. 

  • Fabrication of multilayers and thin films of metal, metal oxides (e.g. Ti, Cu, Al, Fe, W, Mo,Si) and nitrides (AlN, TiN) by different synthesis techniques (see below) and with different microstructures
  • Characterization of composition and structure at the interface by advanced  bulk- and surface-sensitive analytical methods, as listed below.
  • Fundamental understanding of the role of microstructure in thin films and multilayers of nitrides, oxides and metals on their thermal and mechanical  properties, chemical stability, H permeation and interaction.
  • Lift-off and transfer of 2-D perovskite oxide thin films from their parent to a new host substrates (see here)
  • Environmental interaction and durability of defective oxide films in harsh environments (see here)


  • Anodization
  • Thermal Oxidation
  • Electrophoretic Deposition
  • Reactive Magnetron Sputtering (including in-situ film stress monitoring)
  • Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)*
  • Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD)*



* In collaboration with other Empa labs.

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