Skip to content. Skip to main navigation.

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).

  • "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: Professor Nguyen Kien Cuong, Vietnam National University

Graduate students:

  • Jessica Mooney (PhD)
  • Adam Smith (PhD)
  • Elad Har Even (PhD)
  • Yishu Wang (PhD)
  • Minghui Zhang (PhD)
  • Khaled Hirmas (Ph.D.)
  • Amy Brown (MS)
  • Soundarya Pondichery (MS)
  • Anna Zaman (MS)
  • Suo Liu (MS)

Recent Graduates: 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

  • 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).
  • Microstructure Characterization of High-temperature, Oxidation Resistant Si-B-C-N Films, Jie He, Jiechao Jiang, Jaroslav Vlcek, Petr Zeman, Petr Steidl, and E. 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, M. Liu, J. Liu, C. Ma, G. Collins, C.L. Chen, A.D. Alemayehu, G. Subramanyam, J. He, J.C. Jiang, E. I. Meletis and A. Bhalla, The Royial Society of Chemistry-CrystEngComm 15(34), 6641-6644 (2013).
  • Interface Engineered BaTiO3//SrTiO3 Heterostructures with Optimized High-Frequency Dielectric Properties, M. Liu, C. Ma, G. Collins, J. Liu, C.L. Chen, C. Dai, Y. Lin, L. Shui, H. Wang, J. He, J.C. Jiang, E.I. Meletis, Q. Zhang, M.W. Cole, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces 4(11), 5761-5765(2012).
  • Thickness Effects on Magnetic and Electrical Transport Properties of Highly Epitaxial LaBaCo2O5.5+d Thin Films on MgO Substrates, C. Ma, M. Liu, G. Collins, J. Liu, Y.M. Zhang, C.L. Chen, J. He, J.C. Jiang, E.I. Meletis, Applied Physics Letters 101(2) No. 021602 (July 9, 2012).
  • Ultra Fast Oxygen Exchange Kinetics on Highly Epitaxial PrBaCo2O5+d Thin Film, J. Liu, G. Collins, M. Liu, C.L. Chen, J. He, J.C. Jiang and E.I. Meletis, Applied Physics Letters 100(19), No. 193903 (May 7, 2012).
  • Nanodomain and Interface Structure in Epitaxial BaTiO3 Thin Films on MgO Deposited by Magnetron Sputtering, J. He, H.Q. Jiang, J.C. Jiang and E.I. Meletis, Journal of Materials Science 47(6), 2763-2769(2012).
  • Self-patterned Nano Structures in Structurally Gradient Epitaxial La0.5Ba0.5CoO3 Films, J. He, J.C. Jiang, J. Liu, M. Liu, G. Collins, C. Ma, C.L. Chen, E.I. Meletis, Thin Solid Films 519(13), 4371-4376 (2011).
  • Influence of the C Content on the Mechanical and Tribological Properties of the TiCN Coatings deposited by LAFAD Technique, Y.H. Cheng, T. Browne, B. Heckerman and E.I. Meletis, Surface and Coatings Technology 205(16), 4024-4029 (2011).
  • Evolution of Nano-fingers in Epitaxial Mn-doped Ba(Zr,Ti)O3 Thin Films Driven by {110} Twin Boundaries, J. He, J.C. Jiang, M. Liu, J. Liu, G. Collins, C.R. Ma, C.L. Chen, A. Bhalla, E.I. Meletis, Philosophical Magazine Letters 91(5), 361-374 (2011).