Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Vacuum science and metrology for emerging technologies: from advanced vacuum thermal insulation to nuclear fusion

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.09.05  Engineering sciences and technologies  Electronic components and technologies  Vacuum technologies 
2.15.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Metrology   

Code Science Field
P180  Natural sciences and mathematics  Metrology, physical instrumentation 

Code Science Field
2.05  Engineering and Technology  Materials engineering 
2.02  Engineering and Technology  Electrical engineering, Electronic engineering, Information engineering 
advanced dynamic vacuum insulation, electric mobility, nuclear fusion, hydrogen permeation, hydrogen retention, deuterium retention, vacuum metrology, primary static expansion, primary dynamic expansion, spinning rotor gauge, quadrupole mass spectrometer, helium reference leak
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on June 19, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  189  1,689  1,366  7.23 
Scopus  195  1,959  1,628  8.35 
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  03975  PhD Igor Belič  Computer intensive methods and applications  Researcher  2020 - 2021 
2.  55815  Victor Ganin  Biology  Junior researcher  2021 - 2024 
3.  03066  PhD Vincenc Nemanič  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2020 - 2024 
4.  04254  PhD Janez Šetina  Electronic components and technologies  Head  2020 - 2024 
5.  25498  PhD Barbara Šetina Batič  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2020 - 2024 
6.  38187  PhD Tim Verbovšek  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2020 - 2023 
7.  03366  Marko Žumer  Electronic components and technologies  Technical associate  2020 - 2024 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0206  Institute of Metals and Technology  Ljubljana  5051622000 
2.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  18 
Vacuum science and technology is a multidisciplinary field with applications in advanced industries like microelectronics, nanotechnologies, surface engineering, the pharmaceutical industry and in many research areas that need a vacuum environment (electron microscopy and surface science, particle accelerators, space research etc.). The understanding of the relevant vacuum issues about materials exposed to vacuum and the further development of vacuum metrology is crucial for new developments in these areas. The program consists of research groups from two institutions: the Institute of Metals and Technology (IMT) and the Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI). For many years the research interests of both groups were interactions of gases with solid surfaces of a vacuum system, characterisation of vacuum properties (outgassing) of materials, and the preservation of the vacuum environment in sealed vacuum devices, such as vacuum insulation, MEMS packaging or electron tubes. However, to advance the field beyond the present state-of-the-art, the proposed research tackled is divided into three workpackages, which address the selected present challenges for future applications. The first proposed research relates to investigations of hydrogen interaction with selected metals to-be-used in fusion reactors. This it is a continuation of our work within the EUROfusion consortium and focuses on studies of hydrogen retention in mixed layers (Be+O+C), hydrogen permeation through tungsten films and oxidised tungsten films deposited on martensitic steel (Eurofer), and deuterium retention in the liquid Sn suitable for a liquid divertor. Furthermore, the potential new research direction will be addressed a feasibility study of the new concept of advanced vacuum thermal insulation (ADVI) which enables fully-reversible conversion into a thermal conductive state. Changing the thermal conductivity of such a vacuum insulation panel can be achieved by changing the pressure of the gas in the panel. The idea is to use a reversible cycle of hydrogen absorption and desorption from pre-processed built-in metal hydrides based on alloys of titanium, vanadium, zirconium and barium. Possible ADVI applications could, for example, improve the performances of an electric car battery at low environmental temperatures. Lastly, the current challenges in vacuum metrology will be meet in the last workpackage, emphasising the needs of the Slovenian national vacuum laboratory at IMT to complete the development of primary vacuum standard, which combines the static and dynamic expansion method in one system. Other activities in this workpackage are aimed at reducing the measurement uncertainty of the reference vacuum gauges and partial pressure measurements with quadrupole mass spectrometers, examining a new calibration method for reference He leaks into the atmosphere and developing certified reference materials for outgassing rate measurements.
Significance for science
All proposed fields of our research will reveal novel results, which will be published in highly ranked international scientific journals related to the specified topic. Vacuum environment is needed for many industrial processes and in a wide range of scientific activities. For new vacuum technologies further advancements in vacuum science are necessary. The research program is divided into three workpackages, dealing with development of new vacuum compatible and technology compatible materials and improvements in vacuum measurements to better control the processes, which are crucial for emerging technologies. The experiments performed by the program team in WP1 are following priorities set by EUROfusion consortium. These priorities are all agreed at a high scientific level within particular subtasks within mid-term and long-term plans. Our investigations will reveal novel results on hydrogen interaction with selected fusion related metals, where there is currently insufficient data, or they do not exist at all: a) hydrogen retention in mixed layers (Be+O+C). Valuable and complementary data will be acquired on deuterium bonds in layers, which have been found in fusion reactors. b) hydrogen permeation through tungsten films and oxidised tungsten films deposited on martensitic steel (Eurofer). Oxidation of inner reactor surfaces could lead to the formation of impermeable oxides which may represent a hydrogen permeation barrier. c) deuterium retention in the liquid tin is a hot topic; it has some potential advantages compared to few other metals being investigated as suitable for the liquid divertor. In WP2 we address a new concept of advanced vacuum thermal insulation (ADVI) with the capability to be reversibly converted to a thermal conductive state is a novel solution how to efficiently compensate the influence of the outside temperature variations on a particular device. The ADVI is based on the application of an evacuated thin-walled metal vessel which enables the building of rigid 3D boxes. There is the great potential that our findings will open a new approach in designing thermal insulation units where present solutions cannot be applied. In particular, the project at this stage will be studied in a temperature range where it can substantially improve the performances of an electric car battery at low environmental temperatures. Besides this, the concept of ADVI may find application for preserving a device from excessive heating in the space, where staying in the Earth's shadow requires different thermal insulation compared to full illumination. Our research activities in WP3 are focused on current challenges in the field of vacuum metrology and will contribute to new knowledge in measurement science. Although primary static expansion and dynamic expansion method have been known for several decades, they are currently still the only way for the practical realisation of the unit pascal with a sufficiently low uncertainty in the range below 1 Pa. Static expansion systems will continue to be used in national laboratories at least for another decade before being replaced by the optical realisation of the unit pascal by measuring the refractive index of the rarefied gas. Our research and development of a combination of static and dynamic expansion method in a single vacuum system is a novel approach in vacuum metrology on the highest primary level. Regarding measurement uncertainties, it is expected to be at a similar level compared to other systems in national metrology institutes, but the combination of the two methods in one system is significantly cheaper than applying two separate systems. Smaller countries that need to develop primary calibration systems for the vacuum range can follow our approach as a cost-effective solution.
Significance for the country
The quality of our research has been recognised by the international scientific community and by accepting us as partners in several European projects, as well as EUROfusion consortium.. We will strive to continue research on the same or even higher quality and to promote the ability of our country to contribute to the global treasure of knowledge. Participation in international projects also gives us access to foreign knowledge and knowledge exchange at project meetings and international conferences. From the proposed activities we expect novel results, which will be presented at well recognized international meetings. Besides this the program will contribute to education of professionals in the field of vacuum technology and advancement of vacuum science in Slovenia. In the previous period the group members were very active in different international organizations and participated in organization of international meetings and workshops. These activities will be continued, which will contribute to the visibility of our national expert knowledge in the field of vacuum science and technology. Program is strongly linked linked to EU fusion program. Up to now we performed research tasks very successfully and will continue participation in the EUROfusion consortium with national co-funding of our activities. The program is of a great importance for Slovenian national metrological infrastructure, due to its accredited Laboratory of pressure metrology, which is on the highest level in Slovenia. Laboratory was recognized as holder of Slovenian national standards for vacuum and pressure by Metrology institute of Republic of Slovenia (MIRS). The group provides traceability of pressure and vacuum to international level and disseminates this traceability with calibrations to lower hierarchical levels in Slovenian industry and other sectors. Laboratory currently performs more than 200 calibrations per year. We also transfer expert knowledge on vacuum and pressure measurements to users in Slovenian industry. The laboratory’s best calibration and measurement capabilities (CMCs) are published in the database at BIPM "Bureau International des Poids et Measures" in Paris. This means that our calibration certificates are equivalent to certificates of any other national metrology institutes in the world. For Slovenian companies, which have their measuring equipment traceably calibrated in our lab, this also means easier demonstration of the quality of their products on the world market. The achieved top position of Laboratory for pressure metrology in Slovenian national metrology system, as well as on the international level, demands an active role in the field of scientific metrology and cooperation with foreign national laboratories, proving its topmost qualification. Good research in metrology provides a foundation for international recognition of Slovenian national metrology system and for the confidence of other international organizations in our distributed metrology system.
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