Surface Treatment & Modification Consulting, Design and Development

A multidisciplinary approach to engineering consulting, design, product and process development and more

Surface Treatment & Modification - Consulting, Design and Development

Surfaces cover everything and thankfully with today’s technology we have many options to treat surfaces (chemically, physically…etc.) and modify it in a useful way, with desired outcomes including enhancement of adhesion of coatings or components to surfaces, surface modification for making surfaces hydrophobic (difficult wetting), hydrophillic (easy wetting), antistatic, antibacterial or antifungal, enabling heterogeneous catalysis, making semiconductor device fabrication & fuel cells & self-assembled monolayers possible...etc. Our surface scientists and engineers are well experienced to help you in your design and development efforts of component, subassembly and finished product surfaces. We have the knowledge and experience to determine which techniques to use to analyze and modify your particular surface. We also have access to the most advanced test equipment.

Surface chemistry can be roughly defined as the study of chemical reactions at interfaces. Surface chemistry is closely related to surface engineering, which aims at modifying the chemical composition of a surface by incorporating selected elements or functional groups that produce various desired and beneficial effects or improvements in the properties of the surface or interface. The adhesion of gas or liquid molecules to the surface is known as adsorption. This can be due to either chemisorption or by physisorption. By tailoring surface chemistry, we can achieve better adsorption and adhesion. The behavior of a solution based interface is affected by the surface charge, dipoles, energies, and their distribution within the electrical double layer. Surface physics studies physical changes that occur at interfaces, and overlaps with surface chemistry. Some of the things investigated by surface physics include surface diffusion, surface reconstruction, surface phonons and plasmons, epitaxy and surface enhanced Raman scattering, the emission and tunneling of electrons, spintronics, and the self-assembly of nanostructures on surfaces.

Our study and analysis of surfaces involves both physical and chemical analysis techniques. Several modern methods probe the topmost 1–10 nm of the of surfaces exposed to vacuum. These include X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), low-energy electron diffraction (LEED), electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS), ion scattering spectroscopy (ISS), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), and other surface analysis methods included in the list of materials analysis methods. Many of these techniques require vacuum as they rely on the detection of electrons or ions emitted from the surface under study. Purely optical techniques can be used to study interfaces under a wide variety of conditions. Reflection-absorption infrared, surface enhanced Raman, and sum frequency generation spectroscopies can be used to probe solid-vacuum as well as solid-gas, solid-liquid, and liquid-gas surfaces. Modern physical analysis methods include scanning-tunneling microscopy (STM) and a family of methods descended from it. These microscopies have considerably increased the ability and desire of surface scientists to measure the physical structure of surfaces.

Some of the services we offer for surface analysis, testing, characterization and modification are:

  • Testing and characterization of surfaces using a large number of chemical, physical, mechanical, optical techniques (see the list below)

  • Modification of surfaces using suitable techniques such as flame hydrolysis, plasma surface treatment, deposition of functional layers….etc.

  • Process development for surface analysis, testing, surface cleaning and modification

  • Selection, procurement, modification of surface cleaning, treatment and modification equipment, process and characterization equipment

  • Reverse engineering of surfaces and interfaces

  • Stripping & removal of failed thin film structures and coatings to analyze underlying surfaces to determine root cause.

  • Expert witness and litigation services

  • Consulting services


We carry out engineering work on surface modification for a variety of applications, including:

  • Cleaning of surfaces and elimination of unwanted impurities

  • Improving adhesion of coatings and substrates

  • Making surfaces hydrophobic or hydrophilic

  • Making surfaces antistatic or static

  • Making surfaces magnetic

  • Increasing or decreasing surface roughness at micro and nano scales.

  • Making surfaces antifungal and antibacterial

  • Modifying surfaces to enable heterogeneous catalysis

  • Modifying surfaces and interfaces for cleaning, relieving stresses, improving adhesion…etc. to make multilayer semiconductor device fabrication possible, fuel cells & self-assembled monolayers possible.


As mentioned above, we have access to a wide range of conventional and advanced test and characterization equipment that is used in materials analysis including the study of surfaces, interfaces and coatings:

  • Goniometry for contact angle measurements on surfaces

  • Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS), Time of Flight SIMS (TOF-SIMS)

  • Transmission Electron Microscopy – Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM-STEM)

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

  • X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy – Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical analysis (XPS-ESCA)

  • Spectrophotometry

  • Spectrometry

  • Ellipsometry

  • Spectroscopic Reflectometry

  • Glossmeter

  • Interferometry

  • Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC)

  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

  • Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)

  • Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

  • Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS)

  • Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)

  • Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS)

  • Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES)

  • Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS)

  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

  • Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS)

  • Low-energy electron diffraction (LEED)

  • Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES)

  • Raman

  • X-Ray Diffraction (XRD)

  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)

  • Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

  • Dual Beam - Focused Ion Beam (Dual Beam – FIB)

  • Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD)

  • Optical Profilometry

  • Stylus Profilometry

  • Microscratch Testing

  • Residual Gas Analysis (RGA) & Internal Water Vapor Content

  • Instrumental Gas Analysis (IGA)

  • Rutherford Backscattering Spectrometry (RBS)

  • Total Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence (TXRF)

  • Specular X-Ray Reflectivity (XRR)

  • Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA)

  • Destructive Physical Analysis (DPA) compliant with MIL-STD requirements

  • Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

  • Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)

  • Thermomechanical Analysis (TMA)

  • Thermal desorption spectroscopy (TDS)

  • Real Time X-Ray (RTX)

  • Scanning Acoustic Microscopy (SAM)

  • Scanning-tunneling microscopy (STM)

  • Tests to evaluate electronic properties

  • Sheet Resistance Measurement & Anisotropy & Mapping & Homogeneity

  • Conductivity Measurement

  • Physical & Mechanical Tests such as Thin Film Stress Measurement

  • Other Thermal Tests As Needed

  • Environmental Chambers, Aging Tests