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WPB. New processes for the control of the micro and nano-structure of surfaces

Controlling micro- and nano- structure of surfaces represents an active research area which is attracting significant efforts from both academics and industry due to the amount of unsolved scientific challenges and its huge potential on technological applications, such as precision optics, energy conversion, bio-materials, micromanufacturing, and others. This workpackage has a horizontal character and it is aimed at developing surface functionalisation techniques, specifically focussing on two main strategies: a) substantial modifications of existing technologies and new functionalisation techniques.

PVD and PECVD procedures for the control of the micro- and nano-structure.
Major specific innovations expected refer to: i) the hybrid pulsed+filtered arc PVD technology to increase the energy and ionisation degree of the arriving particles, while minimizing the surface roughness by filtering of the droplets produced in the arc; ii) in-situ ionisation sources on PVD, systems to enable nitriding pre-treatments; iii) further modification of PVD systems aimed at achieving novel metal/ceramic architectures with outstanding impact resistance and iv) ion implantation of non-conventional elements (noble gases, metals) focussing on new biomaterial functionalisation.
Development of new procedures of the surface functionalisation by plasma techniques.
FUNCOAT pretends to develop Plasma immersion ion implantation (PIII), High power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIMPS) and Dielectric barrier discharges (DBD). PIII facility integrates plasma-polymerisation, floating potential RF treatments for surface activation, as well as operational user-friendly stages for 3D sample positioning, thus allowing ion implantation in solids of complex shape. A DBD prototype will be also developed aiming at the surface functionalisation of soft materials (like plastics), and the deposition of thin films.
Development of “in situ” diagnosis techniques.
Classical “in situ” monitoring methods such as Langmuir probes, ellipsometry, optical emission spectroscopy (OES), etc will be implemented in the operational plasma methods. The predictive and use as control elements of these methods is clear when up-scaling of the methods is pretended. One relevant example is the use of RHEED (Reflection High Energy Electron Diffraction) methods to “layer by layer” control of the epitaxial growth mechanism of coatings in PLD techniques, as contemplated in activity B4 and systematically used in WPF.
Laser procedures of surface functionalisation and deposition of coatings: Precision Laser techniques will be applied for the control of micro and nano-structure of the coatings, by direct laser writing, as a well suited method for fictionalisation of biomedical coatings (i.e. WP.D). In particular, laser induced forward transfer (LIFT) is an additive technique which enables printing complex materials with a high degree of spatial resolution, without compromising their properties. Applications in the fields of micro-tribology, biomedical and magnetic coatings are envisaged in this task.

The internal relationship between the activities/tasks with themselves and with other Work Packages is described in the following picture.

Diagrama WPB