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April 2016
In This Issue

Laser Confocal Microscopy: Challenging the Limits of Measuring Surface Roughness

From Photonics Spectra, February 2016, 
by Robert Bellinger, Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas Inc.: 
"With laser confocal microscopy, noncontact 3D observations and measurements of surface features at submicron resolutions are easy to produce. Positioning can be determined accurately, and it is easy to perform areal roughness measurement for a small target area. The use of laser confocal microscopes for measurement is largely divided into two categories: horizontal measurement using an intensity image at a high resolution, and 3D measurement using a height image.

Widely used in quality control, research and development across an array of industries and applications, laser confocal microscopes have set new standards in 3D surface roughness measurement. Today's newest laser confocal microscopes deliver the ability to make 3D observations with ultra-high-resolution measurements and a high pixel density. Varying objectives give the user the flexibility of having a working distance capable of accommodating larger objects. High inclination sensitivity provides the ability to make accurate measurements of complex and steep-sided irregularities."

Source: Photonics Spectra,
Image: Olympus Scientific Solutions Americas Inc.

New 2D Material That Could Upstage Graphene

From University of Kentucky, February 29, 2016 by Whitney Harder: 
"A new one atom-thick flat material that could upstage the wonder material graphene and advance digital technology has been discovered by a physicist at the University of Kentucky working in collaboration with scientists from Daimler in Germany and the Institute for Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) in Greece.

The new material is made up of silicon, boron and nitrogen - all light, inexpensive and earth abundant elements - and is extremely stable, a property many other graphene alternatives lack. Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, researchers have demonstrated that by combining the three elements, it is possible to obtain a one atom-thick, truly 2D material with properties that can be fine-tuned to suit various applications beyond what is possible with graphene."

Source: University of Kentucky
Image: University of Kentucky / Dr. Madhu Menon

Engineers Discover a New Kind of Semiconducting Material that Could Lead to Much Faster Electronics

From University of Utah, February 15, 2016: 
"University of Utah engineers have discovered a new kind of 2D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that also consume a lot less power. The semiconductor made of the elements tin and oxygen, or tin monoxide (SnO), is a layer of 2D material only one atom thick, allowing electrical charges to move through it much faster than conventional 3D materials such as silicon.

While researchers in this field have recently discovered new types of 2D material such as graphene, molybdenum disulfide and borophene, they have been materials that only allow the movement of N-type, or negative, electrons. In order to create an electronic device, however, you need semiconductor material that allows the movement of both negative electrons and positive charges known as "holes." The tin monoxide material discovered is the first stable p-type 2D semiconductor material ever in existence."

Source: University of Utah,
Image: University of Utah College of Engineering / Dan Hixson

Ultrafast Microscope Used to Make Slow-Motion Electron Movie

From University of Colorado Boulder, February 16, 2016:

"University of Colorado Boulder researchers have demonstrated the use of the world's first ultrafast optical microscope, allowing them to probe and visualize matter at the atomic level with mind-bending speed. The microscope is considerably more powerful than a conventional optical microscope. The "image frame" rate, or speed captured by the team, is 1 trillion times faster than the blink of an eye, allowing the researchers to make real-time, slow-motion movies of light interacting with electrons in nanomaterials - in this case a thin gold film.

This is the first time anyone has been able to probe matter on its natural time and length scale. They imaged and measured the motions of electrons in real space and time, and were able to make it into a movie to help us better understand the fundamental physical processes."

Source: University of Colorado Boulder, 
Image: University of Colorado Boulder

Trouble Brews for Chip Makers as Neon Shortage Looms

From Chemical and Engineering News, March 7, 2016 by Marc S. Reisch:  
A looming shortage of neon gas threatens to create problems for manufacturers of semiconductors and the devices they power beginning in 2017. Chip makers, which account for more than 90% of global neon consumption, are already experiencing high prices and some shortages stemming from the Russian conflict with Ukraine. The war, which started in 2014 interrupted global supplies of the gas, about 70% of which comes from the Iceblick, a firm based in the Ukrainian city of Odessa.

James Greer, president of PVD Products, a provider of pulsed laser deposition systems for academic research, says he expects the shortage to get worse. The cost of a cylinder containing a mix of neon and other gases used in such systems has increased in the past two years from $1,200 to as much as $12,000. Wait times for delivery have gone from four weeks to eight months."
Source: Chemical and Engineering News,  
Image: Wiki, Ne discharge tube

Graphene Slides Smoothly Across Gold

From University of Basel (Germany), February, 26, 2016:

"An international team of researchers led by physicists at the University of Basel have been studying the lubricity of graphene on the nanometer scale. Since it produces almost no friction at all, it could drastically reduce energy loss in machines when used as a coating.

The physicists from the University of Basel and the Empa have studied the above-average lubricity of graphene using a two-pronged approach combining experimentation and computation. To do this, they anchored two-dimensional strips of carbon atoms - so-called graphene nanoribbons - to a sharp tip and dragged them across a gold surface. Computer-based calculations were used to investigate the interactions between the surfaces as they moved across one another. The experiments revealed almost perfect, frictionless movement. It is possible to move graphene ribbons with a length of 5 to 50 nanometers using extremely small forces (2 to 200 piconewtons)."


Source:University of Basel, 
Image: University of Basel

Researchers Discover New Glass Technology

From University of British Columbia, Okanagan, February 11, 2016 by Matthew Grant: 
"Imagine if the picture window in your living room could double as a giant thermostat or big screen TV. A discovery by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) has brought us one step closer to this becoming a reality.

Researchers at UBC's Okanagan campus in Kelowna found that coating small pieces of glass with extremely thin layers of metal like silver makes it possible to enhance the amount of light coming through the glass. This coupled with the fact that metals naturally conduct electricity, may make it possible to add advanced technologies to windowpanes and other glass objects. This research shows the potential to integrate electronic capabilities into windows and make them smart."

Source: University of British Columbia,
Image: University of British Columbia

New Technique for Turning Sunlight into Hydrogen

From Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST, Republic of Korea), February 1, 2016, by Joo Hyeon Heo: 

"A team of Korean researchers, affiliated with UNIST has recently pioneered in developing a new type of multilayered (Au Nps/TiO2/Au) photoelectrode that boosts the ability of solar water-splitting to produce hydrogen. According to the research team, this special photoelectrode, inspired by the way plants convert sunlight into energy is capable of absorbing visible light from the sun, and then using it to split water molecules (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen.

This multilayered photoelectrode takes the form of two-dimensional hybrid metal-dielectric structure, which mainly consists of three layers of gold film, ultrathin TiO2 layer (20 nm), and gold nanoparticles (Au NPs). The team reported that this promising photoelectrode shows high light absorption of about 90% in the visible range 380-700 nm, as well as significant enhancement in photo-catalytic applications."


Source: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology,
Image: Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

Scientists Guide Gold Nanoparticles to Form "Diamond" Superlattices

From Brookhaven National Laboratory, February 4, 2016: 

"Using bundled strands of DNA to build Tinkertoy-like tetrahedral cages, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have devised a way to trap and arrange nanoparticles in a way that mimics the crystalline structure of diamond. The achievement of this complex yet elegant arrangement may open a path to new materials that take advantage of the optical and mechanical properties of this crystalline structure for applications such as optical transistors, color-changing materials, and lightweight yet tough materials. Research was led by the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven Lab in collaboration with scientists from Stony Brook University, Wesleyan University, and Nagoya University in Japan.

Scientists employed a technique developed by Brookhaven Lab that uses fabricated DNA as a building material to organize nanoparticles into 3D spatial arrangements. Double stranded DNA bundles form tetrahedral cages. Single stranded DNA strands on the edges and vertices match up with complementary strands on gold nanoparticles. This results in a single gold particle being trapped inside each tetrahedral cage, and the cages binding together by tethered gold nanoparticles at each vertex. The result is a crystalline nanoparticle lattice that mimics the long-range order of crystalline diamond."


Source: Brookhaven National Laboratory, 
Image: Brookhave National Laboratory

Solar Cells as Light as a Soap Bubble

From MIT News, February 26, 2016, by David L. Chandler:  
"Researchers at MIT have demonstrated: the thinnest, lightest solar cells ever produced. To demonstrate just how thin and lightweight the cells are, the researchers draped a working cell on top of a soap bubble, without popping the bubble. Though it may take years to develop into a commercial product, the laboratory proof-of-concept shows a new approach to making solar cells that could help power the next generation of portable electronic devices.

The key to the new approach is to make the solar cell, the substrate that supports it, and a protective overcoating to shield it from the environment, all in one process. The substrate is made in place and never needs to be handled, cleaned, or removed from the vacuum during fabrication, thus minimizing exposure to dust or other contaminants that could degrade the cell's performance."

Source: MIT, 
Image: MIT / Joel Jean and Anna Osherov

Material Deformation at Atomic Scale Resembles Avalanches

From University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), February 17, 2016:

"The rearrangement of particles in materials during deformation, such as when a spoon is bent, doesn't occur independently, but rather resembles highly collective avalanches that span the entire material. This is the conclusion of experimental research conducted by researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The team's findings offer a new universal theory of deformation."

Until now attempts to describe what exactly happens during the deformation process have been impeded by the large length-scale gap between microscopic rearrangements and macroscopic deformation. "


Source: University of Amsterdam: 
Image: University of Amsterdam / Marthe Sohpie

First Transparent Solar Cells Developed by Physicists of Leipzig University

From Materials Views, February, 12, 2016 by Dietmar Reichelt:  

"Researchers at Universitšt Leipzig (Germany) have presented the first such transparent solar cell. It is made from the oxides of the abundant and cheap metals zinc and nickel. The absorption edge at 380 nm, just beyond the visible spectral range, is defined by the n-type ZnO. It makes the cell UV-sensitive and transparent in the visible. The generated electrons and holes are separated at a pn-junction made from ZnO/NiO using physical deposition methods. The cell has an external quantum efficiency of 55% and an efficiency of 3.1% for the absorbed light."

Source: Materials Views, 
Image: Materials Views

Nanoscale Plates are Both Thin and Strong

From Advanced Materials and Processes, February 2016: 
"Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, successfully manufactured nanoscale plates that are 1000 times thinner than a sheet of paper but strong enough to spring back into shape after being manipulated by hand. Typically, a nanoscale film needs to be stretched across a frame or put on a rigid backing to prevent it from curling. The problem is that frames are heavy. Their idea was to use corrugation instead of a frame.

The team deposited aluminum oxide in precisely controlled atomic layers, producing 25-100 nm thick plates with hexagonal divots. It's like an egg carton, but on the nanoscale. In addition to preventing curling, the corrugation resists tearing by stopping cracks at an internal wall."

Source: Advanced Materials and Processes, Vol 174, No 2, Page 8
Image: Advanced Materials and Processes / Bargatin Group

Graphene Oxide 'Paper' Changes with Strain

From Rice University, January 19, 2016 by Mike Williams: 

"The same slip-and-stick mechanism that leads to earthquakes is at work on the molecular level in nanoscale materials, where it determines the shear plasticity of the materials, according to scientists at Rice University and the State University of Campinas, Brazil. Researchers found that random molecules scattered within layers of otherwise pristine graphene affect how the layers interact with each other under strain.

Plasticity is the ability of a material to permanently deform when strained. The Rice researchers, thinking about future things like flexible electronics, decided to see how graphene oxide "paper" would handle shear strain, in which the sheets are pulled by the ends."


Source: Rice University, 
Image: Rice University / Ajayan Research Group

How Metal Clusters Grow

From Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT, Germany), January 2016: 

"Researchers from Marburg and Karlsruhe have studied stepwise formation of metal clusters, smallest fractions of metals in molecular form. The shell gradually forms around the inner atom rather than by later inclusion of the central atom. Knowledge of all development steps may allow for customized optoelectronic and magnetic properties.

The team reports the formation of a multinucleated metal cluster by first synthesizing a series of variably sized clusters of the metalloids germanium and arsenic. Larger clusters have an atom of the transition metal tantalum in the center of the cage molecules."


Source: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 
Image:Philipps-Universitšt Marburg / Dehnen Group

Flexible Film May Lead to Phone-Sized Cancer Detector

From University of Michigan, Michigan Engineering, January 13, 2016, by Gabe Cherry: 

"A thin, stretchable film that can coil light waves like a Slinky could one day lead to more precise, less expensive monitoring for cancer survivors. The University of Michigan chemical engineering researchers who developed the film say it could help patients get better follow-up treatment with less disruption to their everyday lives. The film provides a simpler, more cost-effective way to produce circularly polarized light, an essential ingredient in a process that could eventually provide an early warning of cancer recurrence.

To make the film, the research team started with a rectangle of PDMS, the flexible plastic used for soft contact lenses. They twisted one end of the plastic 360 degrees and clamped both ends down. They then applied five layers of reflective gold nanoparticles-enough particles to induce reflectivity, but not enough to block light from passing through. They used alternating layers of clear polyurethane to stick the particles to the plastic."


Source: University of Michigan, 
Image: University of Michigan

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Promotional Partners

The following publications and organizations are playing an important role promoting the 2016 SVC TechCon within and outside the Vacuum Coating Community.


Personal Message

Founded in 1953, AVS is a nonprofit, professional membership organization with 5,000 members worldwide. AVS fosters networking among many scientific communities at various local, national, or international meetings and exhibits throughout the year. In addition, AVS annually published four journal, honors and recognizes members through its prestigious awards program, provides training via the short course program, and offers several career services. Learn more about AVS at

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Physics World is the membership magazine of the Institute of Physics, one of the largest physical societies in the world. Internationally recognized as a leading physics publication, it provides incisive, global coverage of all topics of interest to physicists. Visit us online at 

AIMCAL Logo AIMCAL Web Coating and Handling Conference
May 30 - June 2, 2016
Dresden, Germany

The AIMCAL Web Coating and Handling Conference brings together the converting community to advance the technologies of web processing, handling and finishing. Organized and hosted by the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL) the conference convenes leading industry professionals to improve efficiencies, reduce waste and introduce new technologies designed to improve competitiveness. The conference brings the state of the art to the plant floor, addressing the problems and opportunities that are part of every manufacturing process. AIMCAL is partnering with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV (Fraunhofer IVV), Freising, Germany, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP (Fraunhofer FEP), Dresden, Germany, to present the event.

ICCG11 2016

The International Conference on Coatings on Glass and Plastics ICCG11 
June 12-16, 2016 
Conference Center, Braunschweig, Germany

With an excellent scientific program, several social events, plenty of exhibitors, and a historically remarkable venue, the ICCG11 offers a unique platform to discuss the latest trends and the implementation of new technologies or products into the field of coatings on glass and plastics. The focus of the conference is to bring together science and industry to discuss the latest trends in the field of coatings on glass and plastics. Besides universities and research institutes, the conference addresses coating manufacturers, material and equipment suppliers, and user industries.

The application of coatings is an area which has become extremely important for large-area or high-volume
products. The topics will cover all of the required steps and techniques to control the coating process, to characterize, and to finish the coated product. Finally, the 11th ICCG provides information on the different technologies at a general level for new product designers, as well as technical aspects, safety measures, and environmental and economic factors.

Abstract Submission Deadline: December 15, 2015
Early Bird Registration Deadline: March 4, 2016

Learn More:


Seventh International Conference on Fundamentals and Industrial Applications of HIPIMS 2016
June 27-30, 2016
Cutler's Hall
Sheffield, United Kingdom

HIPIMS 2016 will provide a forum for presenting the latest research by scientists and engineers from industry, engineering institutes and academia. Contributions will cover fundamental scientific aspects as well as application-oriented research and development. In addition, successful introduction to market of new products utilizing HIPIMS will be addressed:

HIPIMS 2016 will focus on the following topics:
  • Generation of HIPIMS and highly ionized plasmas
  • Plasma diagnostics and discharge physics
  • Coating characterization and performance
  • Reactive and non-reactive HIPIMS processes
  • Simulation of HIPIMS processes
  • HIPIMS systems and hardware
Featuring SVC Tutorial Courses:
Monday, June 27
C-323: High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering
Prof. Arutiun P. Ehiasarian, Sheffield Hallam University and Dr. Andre Anders, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Tuesday, June 28 - half-day morning
C-338: Application of Reactive Sputtering
Dr. Ralf Bandorf, Fraunhofer IST

Tuesday, June 28 - half-day afternoon
C-333: HIPIMS Applications
Dr. Ralf Bandorf, Fraunhofer IST and Prof. Arutiun P. Ehiasarian, Sheffield Hallam University

Conference Deadlines:
Abstract submission: Feb 26, 2016
Acceptance Notification: March 25, 2016

SEMICON West 2016

July 12-14, 2016
Moscone Center
San Francisco, CA

At SEMICON West 2016, it's definitely not business as usual. The industry is different and so is SEMICON West-bigger, wider, more in-touch with market-makers. SEMICON West is the one place the new, interconnected supply chain comes together and the reimagined industry comes into focus. Here, not business as usual means new players and demand generators, new programs, and new industry segments-all connecting in one place. Nearly 700 international exhibitors showcasing products and services for across the manufacturing ecosystem-from design to final manufacturing. More than 80 hours of technical and business programs, including in-depth technical sessions. Forums for advanced packaging, test, advanced manufacturing, extended supply chain, sustainable manufacturing and the Silicon Innovation Forum.
SEMICON West pavilions and special exhibit areas showcase companies from around the world and special technology segments who are bringing new products, solutions, and innovations to the global microelectronics industry. Visit pavilions for 3D printing/additive manufacturing, compound semiconductors, secondary equipment, regional pavilions, the World of IoT Showcase, and Innovation Village - a research and startup showcase. SEMICON West connects the extended supply chain to make sense of the new industry. We can't predict what will happen next, but one thing is certain: if you want to be in a position not just to survive, but to thrive, a trip to the completely new, completely re-engineered SEMICON West is mandatory. Connect to opportunity at SEMICON West 2016 and leave "business as usual" behind. Be there -- July 12-14, 2016, Moscone Center, San Francisco, California.

PSE 2016

The 15th International Conference on Plasma Surface Engineering will be held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in September 12 - 16, 2016. The biennial PSE conference series is organized by the European Joint Committee on Plasma and Ion Surface Engineering.

PSE 2016 will feature an SVC Tutorial on September 15, 2016:
C-328 Properties and Applications of Tribological Coatings, with Allan Matthews, University of Manchester, United Kingdom

With a continuously growing interest in the preceding PSE events, with more than 750 participants from all over the world in 2014, PSE is a well-established and leading forum in the field of plasma as well as ion- and particle-beam assisted surface modification and thin film technologies, which is accompanied by a prosperous industrial exhibition.

PSE provides an opportunity to present recent progress in research and development and industrial applications. Its topics span a wide range from fundamentals such as process modelling and simulation of plasmas or thin film physics through experimental studies, which establish the relationships between process parameters and the structural and functional properties of modified surfaces and/or thin films, towards the application in industrial production.

The PSE 2016 will be dedicated to "Plasma, Surface and Mobility". The importance of plasma on the modification of materials surfaces and their impact on the diversity of areas of mobility such as transportation, low CO2 emission, improved engines efficiency or quality of life, will be enhanced in many scientific and technological contributions allocated to the conference topics. The more applied aspects with direct impact on the mobility for tomorrow will be discussed and addressed in the industrial workshop.

Visit the conference Web Page to learn more:

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