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Surface and Nano Engineering Laboratory

Research Activities

Research activities at SaNEL are concerned with basic and applied processing-structure-property relationship with emphasis on advanced materials, nanotechnology and small-scale materials (nano materials, surface treatments and layers, thin films, coatings, materials for MEMS and NEMS and nano devices).

  • Materials Genome for High Temperature Oxidation-Resistant Coatings
  • "Bottom-up" Nanofabrication by Self-assembly
  • Multifunctional Nanocomposite Films
  • Epitaxial Oxide and Composition Gradient Nanostructures
  • Nanotribology, Ultra Low Friction Solid Films
  • Surface Science and Engineering
  • Materials Genome for High Temperature Oxidation-Resistant Coatings


  • Laboratory Director: Efstathios (Stathis) I. Meletis, Professor & Chair
  • Visiting Researchers: Prof. Cheng Li, Chongqing Academy for Science & Technology, P.R. China, Dr. Hongyou Li, Huaqiao University, P.R. China

Graduate Students:

  • Minghui Zhang (PhD)
  • Golsa Mortazavi (PhD)
  • Randall Kelton (PhD)
  • Anna Zaman (PhD)
  • Wisanu Boonrawd (PhD)
  • Ameer Arif Memon (MS)

Graduates: Yishu Wang (PhD), Ronaksinh Parmar (MS), Suo Liu (MS), Anna Zaman (MS), Soundarya Pondichery (MS), Adam Smith (PhD), Jessica Mooney (PhD), Amy Brown (MS), Jie He (PhD), Parisa Sahebi (MS), Aida Mehdinezhad Roshan (MS), Majji Venkatesh (MS), Tapas Mehul Desai (MS), Anjana Shyamsundar (MS), Cristian Cionea (Ph.D.), Yinsheng Fang (MS), Varad Sakhalkar (MS), Michael Frink (MS), Desai Pruthul (MS), Pankaj Hazarika (MS), Gunjan Shebe (MS), Lee-Chun (Mandy) Su (MS), Hsu Chun Chen (MS).

Research Sponsors: NSF, DARPA, NIH, NASA, SERDP, DOE, DOT, NAVAIR, ARO, state and industrial sources.

Vacuum and Electrolytic Plasma-Assisted Processing

We have developed and work on surface engineering by novel (patented) vacuum and electrolytic plasma-assisted processes that can produce functionally gradient layers and surface films/coatings for a wide range of applications from aerospace to biomaterials. Vacuum processes are centered on intensified plasma-assisted nitriding for surface hardening, coating and surface modification treatments addressing surface-sensitive properties such as tribological, corrosion, biocompatibility and etc. Electrolytic plasma processing is a relatively new process that can combine effective cleaning and coating in a wet environment. Present activities are concerned with replacement of toxic electroplated Cd, Cr and Ni with environmentally friendly coatings.

Multifunctional, Nanoparticle and Multilayered Nanocomposites

In the nano-composite thin films area, we are focusing on nano-particle and nano-layered multifunctional films where the components act synergistically and can offer a combination of desirable properties (mechanical, tribological, magnetic, electronic, electrochemical, biological, biocompatibility, etc.). For example, one of the nano-composites we are currently pursuing is multifunctional Co-DLC (diamondlike carbon) films where self-assembling of 5 nm diameter Co nanorods can take place providing an excellent potential to use these films in high density storage, biosensors, MEMS, microdevices, etc. We also pursuing the possibility to use the self-organized Co structures as a nanocatalyst to grow guided arrays of single-wall CNTs that can lead to really exciting electronic applications.

Self-organized, Epitaxial Oxide Nanostructured Films

The last few years, we were the first to observe and report self-assembling in epitaxial perovskite -type oxide films. We currently explore ways to manipulate this process and to develop a novel "bottom-up" nanofabrication technique for sensors, optical, electronic and magnetic nanodevices. These research activities are supported by a NIRT/NSF grant.


Research Activities Concentrate on (i) Ultra low friction nanocomposite DLC films and understanding nano particle effects on thin film wear behavior and (ii) understand scale effects on tribological behavior of nanostructured metals and ceramics.

Facilities and Equipment

  • Plasma-assisted Material Processing
    • Intensified plasma-assisted nitriding system
    • PVD/CVD vacuum system (DC, pulse and RF magnetron sputtering guns)
    • Electrolytic plasma processing set-up (DC and pulse)
  • Mechanical Surface Testing/Tribology
    • Pin-on-disc tribometer with lubrication/environmental cells (CSM Instruments, TRB)
  • Electrochemical Testing/Corrosion
    • Potentiostat/Galvanostat (EG&G 273), computer controlled and appropriate software
    • Stress corrosion cracking/Hydrogen embrittlement, alternate immersion testing
  • Surface Characterization
    • Atomic Force Microscope (AFM 5500) - contact, acoustic AC imaging modes, Magnetic, Piezoelectric, Electrochemical research capabilities
    • Optical Profilometer (Wyko NT9100) - non contact, nanoscale resolution for surface topography and surface topography analysis

Selected Publications

  • Synthesis of Ag doped Hydrogenated Carbon Thin Films by a Hybrid PVD-PECVD Deposition Process, Majji Venkatesh, Sukru Taktak, Efstathios I. Meletis, Bulletin of Materials Science 37(7), (2014) 1669-1676.
  • Microstructure and Nano-mechanical Properties of Mn-doped (Ba,Sr)TiO3//Ba(Zr,Ti)O3 Layered Films on MgO, J. He, J.C. Jiang, M. Liu, G. Collins, C.R. Ma, C.L. Chen, A. Bhalla and E.I. Meletis, Ferroelectrics 473(1), (2014) 55-66.
  • A Study of the Microstructure Evolution of Hard Zr–B–C–N Films by High-resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy, M. Zhang, J.C. Jiang, J. Vlček, P. Steidl, J. Kohout, R. Cerstvy and E.I. Meletis, Acta Materialia 77, (2014) 212–222.
  • Two New Superstructures Ba10Ti8O26 and Ba8Ti8O24 in Epitaxial Barium Titanate Nanodomains: Structural Determination by Nano-beam Electron Diffraction and High-resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy, J. He, J.C. Jiang and E.I. Meletis, Philosophical Magazine 94(15), (2014) 1686-1710.
  • Hard Multifunctional Hf–B–Si–C Films Prepared by Pulsed Magnetron Sputtering, Jiří Kohout, Jaroslav Vlček, Jiří Houška, Pavel Mareš, Radomír Čerstvý, Petr Zeman, Minghui Zhang, Jiechao Jiang, Efstathios I. Meletis, Šárka Zuzjaková, Surface and Coatings Technology 257, (2014) 301-307.
  • Step Terrace Tuned Anisotropic Transport Properties of Highly Epitaxial LaBaCo2O5.5+δ Thin Films on Vicinal SrTiO3 Substrates, Q. Zou, M. Liu, G.Q. Wang, H.L. Lu, T.Z. Yang, H.M. Guo, C.R. Ma, X. Xu, M.H. Zhang, J.C. Jiang, E.I. Meletis, Y. Lin, H.J. Gao, C.L. Chen, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6(9), (2014) 6704-8.
  • Microwave Dielectric Properties of Mn-doped (Ba,Sr)TiO3//Ba(Zr,Ti)O3 Multilayered Thin Films: Optimization of Designed Structure, Ming Liu, Chunrui Ma, Jian Liu, Gregory Collins, Chonglin Chan, Feng Xiang, Hong Wang, Ms Jie He, Jiechao Jiang, Efstathios I. Meletis, Amar S. Bhalla, Integrated Ferroelectrics 150(1), (2014) 116-122.
  • The Origin of the Local Strain in Highly Epitaxial Oxide Thin Films, C. Ma, M. Liu, C.L. Chen, Y. Lin, Y. Li, J.S. Horwitz, J.C. Jiang, E.I. Meletis and Q. Zhang, Scientific Reports 3, (2013) 3092 DOI 10.1038.
  • Microstructure and Nano-mechanical Properties of Epitaxial BaTiO3-based Multilayered Thin Films on MgO Substrate, J. He, J.C. Jiang, M. Liu, G. Collins, C.R. Ma, C.L. Chen, A. Bhalla and E.I. Meletis, Journal of Surfaces and Interfaces of Materials 1(2), (2013) 163-171.
  • Microstructure Characterization of High-temperature, Oxidation Resistant Si-B-C-N Films, Jie He, Jiechao Jiang, Jaroslav Vlcek, Petr Zeman, Petr Steidl, and Efstathios I. Meletis, Thin Solid Films 542, 167-173(2013).
  • Enhanced Dielectric Properties of (Ba,Sr)TiO3//Ba(Zr,Ti)O3 Heterostructures with Optimized Structure Design, Ming Liu, Jian Liu, Chunrui Ma, Gregory Collins, Chonglin Chen, Andy D. Alemayehu, Guru Subramanyam, Jie He, Jiechao Jiang, Efstathios I. Meletis and Amar Bhalla, The Royial Society of Chemistry-CrystEngComm 15(34), 6641-6644 (2013). Article featured on journal’s cover page.
  • Quantitative Study of Surface Roughness Evolution During Low-cycle Fatigue of 316L Stainless Steel Using Scanning Whitelight Interferometric Microscopy, Y. Wang, E.I. Meletis and H. Huang, International Journal of Fatigue 48, 280-288 (2013).