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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 (nanomaterials, surface treatments and layers, thin films, coatings).

  • 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
  • Electrolytic Plasma Processing


  • Laboratory Director: Efstathios (Stathis) I. Meletis, Professor

Graduate Students:

  • Randall Kelton (PhD)
  • Anna Zaman (PhD)
  • Nastran Barati (PhD)
  • Wisanu Boonrawd (PhD)
  • Hooman Rahmani (PhD)
  • Yi Shen (PhD)
  • Ninand Paranjape (MS)
  • Hsiao-Chien Wu (MS)
  • Nikita Goswami (MS)
  • O. Virginia Ingoenyesi (MS)
  • Chirag Khamar (MS)

Recent Graduates: Golsa Mortazavi (PhD), Minghui Zhang (PhD), Urvil Khatri (MS), 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 (PhD), 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 fundamental understanding of the tribological behavior of (i) Ultra low friction metal-doped M-DLC (M= W, Ti, Ag, etc.) nanocomposite films and (ii) metallic and ceramic coatings produced by cathodic and anodic Electrolytic Plasma Processing.

Selected Publications

  • Ab Initio Predictions of Hexagonal Zr(B,C,N) Polymorphs for Coherent Interface Design, Hu, Chongze; Huang, Jingsong; Sumpter, Bobby; Meletis, Efstathios; Dumitrica, Traian, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C (Manuscript ID: jp-2017-09444q.R1, accepted).
  • Alumina- Zirconia Coatings Produced by Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation on Al Alloy for Corrosion Resistance Improvement, Nastaran Barati, Aleksey Yerokhin, Farhad Golestanifard, Saeid Rastegari and Efstathios I. Meletis, Journal of Alloys and Compounds 724 (2017) 435-442.
  • Competitive Reactivity of Nitrogen and Oxygen with Nickel when an Argon/Air Mixture is Used as Sputtering Gas, P. Poulopoulos, A. Sousanis, K. C. Zotos, N. Papaefstathiou, S. Grammatikopoulos, D. Trachylis, W. Schommers, E.I. Meletis, and C. Politis, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 17, (2017) 1-8.
  • First Principles Modeling and Simulation of Zr-Si-B-C-N ceramics: Developing Hard and Resistant Coatings, Atreyi Dasmahapatra; Efstathios Meletis and Peter Kroll, Acta Materialia 125, (2017) 246-254.
  • Superior High-temperature oxidation resistance of Magnetron Sputtered Hf-B-Si-C-N Film, Petr Zaman, Sarka Zuzjakova, Pavel Mareš, Radomir Čerstvý, Minghui Zhang, Jiechao Jiang, Efstathios I. Meletis, Jaroslav Vlček, Ceramics International 42(4), (2016) 4853-4859.
  • On the Novel Biaxial Strain Relaxation Mechanism in Epitaxial Composition Graded La1-xSrxMnO3 Thin Film Synthesized by RF Magnetron Sputtering, Yishu  Wang, Minghui Zhang, Efstathios I. Meletis, Coatings 5(4), (2015) 802-815, doi:10.3390.
  • Effect of the Si Content on the Microstructure of Hard, Multifunctional Hf-B-Si-C Films Prepared by Pulsed Magnetron Sputtering, Minghui Zhang, Jiechao Jiang, Pavel Mareš, Jiři Houška, Jaroslav Vlček, and Efstathios I. Meletis, Applied Surface Science 357, (2015) 1343-1354.
  • Al2O3-ZrO2 Nanostructured Coatings using DC Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation to Improve Tribological Properties of Al Substrates, N. Barati, E.I. Meletis, F. Golestani Fard, A. Yerokhin, S. Rastegari, M.A. Faghihi-Sani, Applied Surface Science 356, (2015) 927-934.
  • Deposition of Ni Coatings by Electrolytic Plasma Processing, A. Smith, R. Kelton, E.I. Meletis, Plasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing 35(6), (2015) 963-978.
  • Thermal Transport across Few-Layer Hexagonal Boron Nitride Encased by Silica, Yuxiang Ni, Jiechao Jiang, Efstathios Meletis, and Traian Dumitrică, Applied Physics Letters107(3), (2015) 031603.
  • Composition Gradient Effects on Strain Relaxation in Sr-doped LaMnO3 Epitaxial Thin Films, Yishu Wang and Efstathios I. Meletis, Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology A 34(4), 041516 (2015).
  • Microstructure of Hard and Optically Transparent HfO2 Films Prepared by High-power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering with a Pulsed Oxygen Flow Control, Nai-Wen Pi, Minghui Zhang, Jiechao Jiang, Alexandr Belosludtsev, Jaroslav Vlček, Jiří Houška and Efstathios I. Meletis, Thin Solid Films, 619C (2016) 239-249.
  • Compositional and Structural Atomistic Study of the Amorphous Si-B-N Networks of Interest for High-Performance Coatings, Jihong Al-Ghalith, Atreyi Dasmahapatra, Peter Kroll, Efstathios Meletis and Traian Dumitrica, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 120(42), (2016) 24346-24353.
  • 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 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).