I aim to achieve a fundamental understanding of the atomistic kinetic pathways responsible for nanostructure formation and to explore the concept of self-organization by thermodynamic segregation in functional ceramics. Model systems are advanced ceramic thin films, which will be studied under two defining cases: 1) deposition of supersaturated solid solutions or nanocomposites by magnetron sputtering (epitaxy) and arc evaporation. 2) post-deposition annealing (ageing) of as-synthesized material. Thin film ceramics are terra incognita for compositions in the miscibility gap. The field is exciting since both surface and in-depth decomposition can take place in the alloys. The methodology is based on combined growth experiments, characterization, and ab initio calculations to identify and describe systems with a large miscibility gap. A hot topic is to elucidate the bonding nature of the cubic-SiNx interfacial phase, discovered by us in TiN/Si3N4 with impact for superhard nanocomposites. I have also pioneered studies of self-organization by spinodal decomposition in TiAlN alloy films (age hardening). Here, the details of metastable c-AlN nm domain formation are unknown and the systems HfAlN and ZrAlN are predicted to be even more promising. Other model systems are III-nitrides (band gap engineering), semiconductor/insulator oxides (interface conductivity) and carbides (tribology). The proposed research is exploratory and has the potential of explaining outstanding phenomena (Gibbs-Thomson effect, strain, and spinodal decomposition) as well as discovering new phases, for which my group has a track-record, backed-up by state-of-the-art in situ techniques. One can envision a new class of super-hard all-crystalline ceramic nanocomposites with relevance for a large number of research areas where elevated temperature is of concern, significant in impact for areas as diverse as microelectronics and cutting tools as well as mechanical and optical components.
Field of science
- /engineering and technology/materials engineering/coating and films
- /engineering and technology/materials engineering/ceramics
- /engineering and technology/materials engineering/nanocomposites
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call