Surface Chemistry & Thin Films & Coatings

Surface Chemistry & Thin Films & Coatings

Surfaces cover everything. Let us do magic by modifying and coating surfaces

Surface Chemistry & Testing of Surfaces & Surface Modification and Improvement

The phrase "Surfaces cover everything" is one we all should give a second to think about. Surface science is the study of physical and chemical phenomena that occur at the interface of two phases, including solid-liquid interfaces, solid-gas interfaces, solid-vacuum interfaces, and liquid-gas interfaces. It includes the fields of surface chemistry and surface physics. Related practical applications are jointly referred to as surface engineering. Surface engineering encompasses concepts such as heterogeneous catalysis, semiconductor device fabrication, fuel cells, self-assembled monolayers, and adhesives.


Surface chemistry can be broadly defined as the study of chemical reactions at interfaces. It is closely related to surface engineering, which aims at modifying the chemical composition of a surface by incorporation of selected elements or functional groups that produce various desired effects or improvements in the properties of the surface or interface. Surface science is of particular importance to fields such as heterogeneous catalysis and thin film coatings.


The study and analysis of surfaces involves both physical and chemical analysis techniques. Several modern methods probe the topmost 1–10 nm of the 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, ion scattering spectroscopy, secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), and other surface analysis methods. Many of these techniques require vacuum and expensive equipment as they rely on the detection of electrons or ions emitted from the surface under study. Besides such chemical techniques, physical including optical techniques are also used.

For any potential engineering projects involving surfaces, adhesives, enhancement of adhesion to surfaces, surface modification for making surfaces hydrophobic (difficult wetting), hydrophillic (easy wetting), antistatic, antibacterial or antifungal...etc., contact us and our surface scientists will help you in your design and development efforts. We have the knowledge to determine which techniques to use to analyze your particular surface as well as access to the most advanced test equipment.

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

  • Testing and characterization of surfaces

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

  • Process development for surface analysis, testing and modification

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

  • Reverse engineering of surface treatments for special applications

  • 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 surface modification for a variety of applications, including:

  • Improving adhesion of coatings and substrates

  • Making surfaces hydrophobic or hydrophilic

  • Making surfaces antistatic or static

  • Making surfaces antifungal and antibacterial


Thin Films and Coatings

Thin films or coatings are thin material layers ranging from fractions of a nanometre (monolayer) to several micrometers in thickness. Electronic semiconductor devices, optical coatings, scratch resistant coatings are some major applications benefiting from thin film construction.


A familiar application of thin films is the household mirror which typically has a thin metal coating on the back of a sheet of glass to form a reflective interface. The process of silvering was once commonly used to produce mirrors. Nowadays much more advanced thin film coatings are being used. For example, a very thin film coating (less than a nanometer) is used to produce two-way mirrors. The performance of optical coatings (such as antireflective, or AR coatings) are typically enhanced when the thin film coating consists of multiple layers having varying thicknesses and refractive indices. Similar periodic structures of alternating thin films of different materials may collectively form a so-called superlattice which exploits the phenomenon of quantum confinement by restricting electronic phenomena to two-dimensions. Other applications of thin film coatings are ferromagnetic thin films for use as computer memory, thin film drug delivery applied to pharmaceuticals, thin-film batteries. Ceramic thin films are also in widespread use. The relatively high hardness and inertness of ceramic materials makes these types of thin coatings of interest for protection of substrate materials against corrosion, oxidation and wear. In particular, the use of such coatings on cutting tools can extend the life of these items by several orders of magnitude. Research is being done on many applications. An example of research is a new class of thin film inorganic oxide materials, called amorphous heavy-metal cation multicomponent oxide, which could be used to make transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable, and environmentally benign.


As any other engineering subject, the area of thin films demands engineers from a variety of disciplines, including chemical engineers. We have outstanding resources in this area and can provide you the following services:

  • Thin film & coatings design and development

  • Thin film & coatings characterization including chemical and analytical tests.

  • Chemical and physical deposition of thin films & coatings (plating, CSD, CVD, MOCVD, PECVD, MBE, PVD such as sputtering, reactive sputtering, and evaporation, e-beam, topotaxy)

  • Through the building of complex thin film structures, we create multimaterial structures such as nano-composites, 3D structures, stacks of different layers, multilayers,…. etc.

  • Process development and optimization for thin film and coating deposition, etching, processing

  • Selection, procurement, modification of thin film and coating process and characterization equipment

  • Reverse engineering of thin films and coatings, chemical and physical analysis of layers inside multilayer coating structures to determine chemical content, bonds, structure and properties

  • Root cause analysis of failed thin film structures and coatings

  • Expert witness and litigation services

  • Consulting services