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Thin Film & Coating Technologies for Science & Industry

The conference programme comprises presentations by invited speakers from academia and selected professional updates from industry, there will be a ‘poster session’ of contributed papers from early career scientists who are researching novel and exciting new techniques or unique applications - MORE>


Wednesday 10th October - Theatre 2 - Ericsson Exhibition Hall

09:00 Registration opens in the atrium

Welcome and opening remarks
Dr Mark Baker, Reader in Surface Science and Engineering, University of Surrey

  Chair: Dr Hayley Brown
10:20 Diamond-like Carbon: Functional Engineering Coating
Dr Tomasz Liskiewicz, University of Leeds, UK

Surface Engineering is an enabling technology for high-value manufacturing industry, and a fundamental element of a modern materials research. Improved adoption of novel Surface Engineering solutions results in wider economic and societal impacts associated with development of functional surfaces for automotive, aerospace, biomedical, healthcare, defence, agriculture, oil & gas and packaging industries. The industry needs innovative coatings and functional surfaces to enhance product performance, exploit efficient materials utilisation and adapt to changes in the business environment.
Plasma Vapour Deposition (PVD) technology is a collective set of processes used to deposit thin layers of material, and it stands out as a modern and efficient way of functionalising engineering components. PVD coatings are applied to improve hardness, wear resistance, frictional properties, oxidation resistance and electrical performance, and are used in engineering applications in aerospace, automotive, material processing, decorative, cutting tools and optics sectors.

In this talk, application of PVD deposited diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings for engineering components is considered. Several case studies are presented including application of DLC coatings in internal combustion engine, oil and gas flow control devices, and surface sensors. Advantages of nano-mechanical characterisation of DLC coatings for quantification and prediction of their performance are discussed.

10:45 Magnetron sputtered coatings reducing friction in extreme applications
Prof. Tomas Polcar, University of Southampton, UK

The friction of solids is an extremely complex and multiscale problem. Simulations of friction at the atomic scale have just started and still have to unravel their full potential; moreover, experimental validation is an ongoing challenge. Recent advances in 2D materials, such as graphene or transition metal dichalcogenides, opens, perhaps for the first time, the possibility for bottom-up design of frictionless material.
2D materials may readily be used as lubricants in nanoscale contacts, but their applicability as externally supplied lubricants in mainstream engineering applications is questionable. The same applies from atomistic models of friction – they are too distant from everyday engineering design. Could industry benefit today from such fundamental research?

We show that research-to-application path could be faster than expected by using example of solid lubricant coatings with self-adaptive nanostructure. Our ultimate ambition is to prepare thin films, which will produce an ultra-low friction interface based on optimised low-dimensional structures in situ, i.e. during sliding. Preferably, low dimensional materials minimizing friction should be produced continuously during the sliding process.

We try to establish links between fundamental properties of selected 2D materials obtained by ab initio methods (electronic structure, covalency, etc.), molecular dynamics and the intrinsic friction. Finally, we will show applications where are novel solid lubricant coatings can penetrate the market.

Professor Tomas Polcar is a Professor of Materials Science and Tribology at Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton.

Tomas graduated in 2000 in Engineering with a Master thesis focused on the design of a hot-water boiler burning green wood with a nominal power of 10 MW. Then he completely switched the scale from meters to nanometers when studying for a PhD in Mathematical and Physical Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague; the thesis was on the high temperature tribology of protective coatings. After finishing PhD in 2005, he moved to the University of Coimbra, Portugal, as postdoctoral researcher. In 2008, Tomas returned back to CTU in Prague as a lecturer. He launched Advanced Materials Group in 2008 being promoted to associate professor (2012) and full professor (2015) in applied physics. Tomas moved to Southampton as Lecturer in Coatings and Nanotribology in 2011 and was promoted to associate professor in 2014.

11:10 Break
11:40 Novel HIPIMS deposited nanostructured CrN/NbN coatings for environmental protection of steam turbine components
Professor Papken Hovsepian, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

The main challenges faced by different steel components of the power plant consist of material failure due to high temperature oxidation, and phenomenon such as creep, erosion and descaling after a stipulated period of time.
The novel High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) deposition technology has been used to deposit CrN/NbN with enhanced adhesion and very dense microstructure as demonstrated by XTEM imaging.

P92 coated samples were oxidised at 600°C in 100% high pressure, 50 bar steam atmosphere up to 1500 h. In these conditions CrN/NbN provided  reliable protection of the P92 steel.

This research also revealed that unlike other state-of -the-art PVD technologies, HIPIMS does not have an adverse effect on the mechanical properties of the substrate material, which is of paramount importance in case of turbine blade applications. This has been confirmed by various high temperature (650oC) tests such as Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS), Low Cycle Fatigue, and High Temperature Creep tests carried out on CrN/NbN coated P92 steel samples.
The protection properties of the coating against water droplet erosion attack were tested using specialized test rig. The coating shows high resistance against water droplet erosion. After 2.4E6 impacts no measurable weight loss was detected.

12:05 Tantalum CVD films on varying carbon content steels; process, properties and performance
Hollie Heard, Archer Technicoat Ltd, High Wycombe, UK



12:30 High performance coatings produced using a novel ion beam sputtering system
Dr Alex Ribeaud, Buhler Alzenau GmbH, Germany

Ion Beam Sputtering isn’t a recent coating technique, but its field of applications never cease to expand. With the improvement of the technology, IBS coatings are no longer a niche application, and are becoming more and more a “must have” capability. We have developed a new IBS System with different substrate configurations: the High Throughput version (HT) and the High Precision version (HP).  The HT version enables the coating of 4 planets of up to 350mm diameter substrates, whereas the HP version allows coating of substrates up to 600mm diameter in a single planet configuration, without the use of a mask. The IBS system is configured with a proprietary Optical Monitoring System for layer termination, a large 22cm RF sputtering source, and a LION plasma source for assist. Optical performance of these IBS coatings, including LIDT, absorption, total loss and residual coating stress, will be presented. Preliminary results of a 1064nm mirror show less than 5ppm absorption, reflectivity’s of 99.994%, and no visible damage in CW LIDT testing up to 10MW/cm².  Pulsed laser damage testing is in process and will be reported.

Senior Optical Coating Engineer for Compound Photonics, working on Laser Facet Coating using Ion Beam Sputtering Deposition. It covers the development of the process for deposition of the layers, done in a manufacturing environment, coordinating with equipment and production departments. Previously process engineer for Buhler-Leybold, specialised in Optics and Precision Optics Systems, as part of a service engineer team.

I have also completed a Ph.D. in Applied Physics, focusing on the subject Zinc Oxide thin films epitaxy for Solid State Lighting applications. I undertook my research in the French CEA, creating a completely new production process and setting goals to achieve.

12:55 Break - delegates are encouraged to visit the exhibition
13:15 Poster session in the exhibition hall
  Chair: Dr Justyna Kulczyk-Malecka
14:30 Smart piezoelectric thin films for flexible and wearable acoustic wave sensors and lab-on-chip devices
Professor Richard Fu, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK


Thin film acoustic techniques have been used to fabricate surface acoustic wave (SAW) and film bulk acoustic wave (FBAR) applications, which have been used for sample preparation (sorting, mixing, pumping, nebulization and dispensing) as well as gas sensing and bio-sensing. This talk will focus on acoustic wave devices fabricated using piezoelectric thin films (mainly ZnO and AlN) for acoustic wave sensing and microfluidic applications. Engineering of piezoelectric films and their functional properties are analyzed. The fabrication process and characterization of integrated acoustic wave devices using sputtered thin films on various substrates were discussed, but more focusing on recent work of high performance flexible and wearable devices achieved on polymer and metallic foils. The thin film based flexible SAW devices have the potential to be integrated with other microfluidic and sensing technology on a variety of substrates including CMOS integrated circuits to make novel lab-on-chip for bio-detection for wearable and flexible applications.

Richard is a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, UK. He has extensive experience in smart thin film/materials, biomedical microdevices, lab-on-chip, micromechanics, MEMS, nanotechnology, sensors and microfluidics. He published over 360 science citation index (SCI) journal papers (including Progress in Materials Science, Nature Communications, and Nano Letters), 2 books, 20 book chapters, and his current SCI H-index is 42 with over 6800 citations. He is associate editor/editorial board members for six international journals including Scientific Report, and co-organising more than 10 international conferences.


Solid state reflective displays: a new optical interference based technology
Dr Peiman Hosseini, Bodle Technologies Ltd, UK





Magnetron-sputtered photocatalytic coatings for water treatment application
Dr Marina Ratova, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK


As industrialization and urbanization in the modern world increases, so will the amount of waste products contaminating water, air and soil. Consequently, there is an urgent requirement for reliable and efficient methods to treat persistent organic pollutants and microbial contamination. Recently photocatalysis has gained popularity as a safe and sustainable method of air and water decontamination. Following the work of Fujishima and co-workers, TiO2 has been widely used for photocatalytic decontamination and disinfection processes. However, its practical application, particularly in natural sunlight, is limited by a high band gap and low photonic efficiency.

In contrast, bismuth oxide and complex oxides are a relatively new group of photocatalytic materials characterized with low band gap values and high photocatalytic efficiency under sunlight, making them attractive materials for water treatment. The present study describes decontamination and disinfection processes using bismuth-based oxide coatings deposited by reactive magnetron sputtering in a one-step process. Coatings were thoroughly studied by number of analytical techniques. The photocatalytic properties of the samples were studied by their ability to photodegrade various model and “real-life” water pollutants, both in laboratory conditions and under natural sunlight. Antimicrobial properties of the coatings were confirmed by efficient inactivation of common water-borne microorganisms. Importantly, the studied coatings were found to have considerable antifouling effects, preventing the adhesion of microorganisms to the surface and therefore, providing a longer life cycle. Additionally, the coatings were confirmed to have suppressive effect on the hatching of Aedes larvae, responsible for the spread of infectious diseases, such as Zika virus.


Organic PVD thin films as reference materials for surface analysis
Steve Spencer, National Physics Laboratory, UK


At National Physical Laboratory (NPL) we have developed organic PVD thin films as reference materials for many surface analytical techniques. For example, they have been used to develop and demonstrate the best method for organic depth profiling, assessing depth resolution, constancy of sputtering yield and damage. These materials create a benchmark between different techniques and the establishment of measurement standards. It is therefore essential that these reference films should have known, uniform composition and thickness. This talk will describe the understanding developed at NPL to improve the deposition process and the quality of the coatings. Some of the common pitfalls and issues encountered in creating these materials will be described.

16:10 Concluding comments Dr Mark Baker
16:15 Close of meeting and POSTER SESSION in the exhibition hall
16:30 A poster prize will be awarded the best poster
  The exhibition remains open until 17:00

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Dr Mark Baker
Reader in Surface Science and Engineering, University of Surrey


Stuart Allan
Director, Artemis Optical Ltd, Plympton.

Dr Hayley Brown
Business Development Manager, Plasma Quest Ltd, Hook.

Dr Justyna Kulczyk-Malecka
Research Associate, Surface Engineering Group, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Dr Alf Smith
Business Development Manager, CPI, Sedgefield.