The continued development of nanoscale materials and devices raises the need to analyze the properties and performance of surfaces — the natural physical limit of any device or component. Underlying phenomena contributes to surface degradation (e.g. corrosion, wear, creep, and fatigue) due to their interactions with the surrounding environment, often with significant cost to industry and the national economy. The Multi-scale Surface Science and Engineering research cluster studies these interactions and develops strategies to arrest this process, enhance performance, improve sustainability and extend the lifetime of materials. Multi-scale engineering of surfaces is critical for current and next-generation applications, ranging from chemical mechanical polishing of copper in the microelectronics industry to novel high temperature coatings that resist oxidation, wear, and fracture of critical jet engine components, and advanced coatings and surface texturing for hard tissue bioimplants.
Working with researchers across UNT departments — Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Mechanical and Energy Engineering, and Physics — the Multi-scale Surface Science and Engineering research cluster offers a unique and innovative research base that combines expertise in surface engineering with experimental multi-scale engineering for materials analysis, from the atomic scale to the macro scale. No other major academic institutional effort of this type exists. Additionally, very few academic institutions have the requisite organic knowledge- and infrastructure-base consisting of both the experimental and computational resources that can be applied to various sub-disciplines of surface engineering. Cluster researchers utilize cutting edge computational facilities and an advanced suite of processing and materials characterization instruments, many available via CART (http://research.unt.edu/cart), such as the dual-beam FIB/SEM (focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope), the analytical high-resolution TEM (transmission electron microscope), and the 3D atom probe (LEAP). These tools allow for precise, three-dimensional, structural and compositional characterization of the same specimen from the micrometer scale to the atomic scale. This in-house capability places this research cluster at a superior level when compared with other efforts around the country that typically focus on one length scale.