Plasma Surface Engineering

The Plasma Surface Engineering group at ALPS works at the cross section between Plasma, Surfaces and Engineering. The main focus of the research group  is the development of plasma processes and associated diagnostics.

The development of plasma processes requires a broad range of skills. For this reason engineers and scientists specialized in plasma, materials, optics and electronics join forces to tackle the questions posed by our industrial partners. In order to best complement the know-how of our industrial and research partners the group constantly develops skills in plasma diagnostics, which are crucial during the development phase, but not essential once the process is optimized and the expected results are achieved.

Aura wave microwave plasma

GD crater caused by ion and fast atom bombardment

Robotics for plasma treatment of wood

Elemental depth profil, thin film analysis by GDOES

SEM image: nano-diamond particles on Si substrate

GD-plasma source

MANTIS PVD Reactor for process development

SEM: metal oxide flowers

We use plasma technology to modify or analyse surfaces of various materials. Atmospheric pressure discharges are used to modify the hydrophilic character of organic surfaces such a wood. For glow discharge spectrometry a small dc or rf discharge at medium pressure is used to characterize the chemical composition of surfaces and interfaces between surface layers of work pieces. We use microwave excited plasma for Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition, currently to optimize Nano Crystalline diamond deposition at low substrate temperature. Standard deposition methods such as magnetron sputtering are also available in our laboratories.

Physical vapour deposition has become a standard deposition process in many industrial sectors. Electronic component manufacturing has been at the origin of much of the development, but nowadays these techniques are applied in many industrial sectors well represented in Swittzerland, such as watch-making, medical technologies, tool manufacturing and photo voltaic. 

For this field of application we are equipped with a large Mantis M600 deposition chamber designed for process development and diagnosis in collaboration with our industrial partner. It is not the objective of our research group to produce thin films on industrial level. Our goal its to accompany industrial development, with diagnosis assisted process development. 

In this area we closely collaborate with the ALPS thin film group, the Laboratory for mechanics of materials and nanostructures at EMPA in Thun and our academic partners from the LaPlace laboratory in Toulouse.


AP3-Hard / Pulsed Plasma for hard coatings