Surface Science

We are interested in phenomena appearing on materials in various environments.

  • We improve materials so they can be more resiliant to harmful influences.
  • We do biosynthesis of nanoparticles.
  • We examine nonlinear effects on surface reactions.



Why Surfaces?
In 2007, Gerhard Ertl received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his studies of chemical processes on solid surfaces. At that time, the importance of surface processes was summarized in this illustration:
When something has a function, then surface processes often play a role in it.
(Surfaces often play a major role in the function of some machines or devices.)
Some examples are catalysis for production (far right) and waste disposal (far left), or semi-conductor production (second from right). 
Unfortunately, surfaces are also in play when something goes wrong, as for example the ozone layer (second from left) or through corrosion (center).
Processes taking place on surfaces are extremely important, though still little understood. The material science focal point of Campus Koblenz and the Innovation Cluster Metal & Ceramics address these issues.
Every surface plays an integral role in its apparatus, as it separates the inside from the environment and joins these two areas with each other. For a purposeful examination of surfaces and their special constructive processes – e.g. coatings—or destructive processes – e.g. corrosion – it is imperative to control their direct environment. The simplest method of doing this would be to remove it, by creating a vacuum.
To demonstrate this task, consider the following experiment:
A cube with the length of 1 cm on each side has a volume of 1 ml. Filled with air, there would be more than 10 billion billion particles (10^19). The surface of one side  of the cube (1cm^2 is a typically-sized specimen) consists of only a million billion particles (10^15). The environment is therefore in the ‘majority’ and determines the behavior of the system. If the air is now pumped our of the cube until an ultra-high vacuum is attained, only about one million particles (10^6) remain within the cube; the particles on the surface are now clearly in the majority, and an analysis of the surface is now possible.
Further information about experiments and research results can temporarily be found under:


M015: ultra high vacuum (UHV) laboratory

The new laboratory M015 is dedicated to surface science. Three vacuum chambers are located there, offering various surface manipulations and analysis options.
One chamber is mainly used to examine the effects of non-linearity in surface reactions.
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The second chamber is a fully-automated vacuum chamber presently used to study the interaction between plastics and thermal hydrogen atoms as basic plasma.
The third chamber was set up to initiate experimental capabilities of DLC coating on plastics. The plasma chamber is used to investigate the processes during DLC coating on plastics.

G504: atomic force microscope (AFM)

The AFM (Omicron UHV-STM #27) is located in G504. The AFM has been modified for microscopic studies of material on the micro- and nanoscale, such as roughness, topography, smoothness, grain etc., under normal environmental circumstances.

G411: laboratory for preparatory work

One line of research is to test and improve bio-based corrosion inhibitors.
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The bio-based generation of metal nanoparticles via micro-organisms is another main activity in this lab.
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