Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Thin-film structures and plasma surface engineering

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.09.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Electronic components and technologies   
2.04.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Materials science and technology   

Code Science Field
2.02  Engineering and Technology  Electrical engineering, Electronic engineering, Information engineering 
2.10  Engineering and Technology  Nano-technology 
gaseous discharges, non-equilibrium gaseous plasma, plasma characterization, surface engineering, thin films, hard coatings, surface characterization, depth profiling, tribology, nanoindentation, PVD, sputtering, evaporation
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on May 29, 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  1,105  23,889  19,751  17.87 
Scopus  1,134  26,540  22,225  19.6 
Researchers (28)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  34541  PhD Metka Benčina  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  81 
2.  18271  PhD Miha Čekada  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  441 
3.  35463  PhD Aljaž Drnovšek  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  97 
4.  53451  Matej Drobnič  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  50 
5.  53529  Jernej Ekar  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022 - 2024  42 
6.  18635  Tatjana Filipič    Technical associate  2022 - 2024  24 
7.  15601  Jožko Fišer    Technical associate  2022 - 2024  12 
8.  55765  Žan Gostenčnik  Materials science and technology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  12 
9.  38207  PhD Matej Holc  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022  20 
10.  28480  PhD Ita Junkar  Medical sciences  Researcher  2022 - 2024  288 
11.  15703  PhD Janez Kovač  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022 - 2024  679 
12.  53287  PhD Marian Lehocky  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022  41 
13.  52051  PhD Dane Lojen  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022  13 
14.  39474  PhD Nastja Mahne  Materials science and technology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  14 
15.  15602  Damjan Matelič    Technical associate  2022 - 2024 
16.  10429  PhD Miran Mozetič  Electronic components and technologies  Head  2022 - 2024  1,354 
17.  26463  PhD Matjaž Panjan  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022 - 2024  227 
18.  09090  PhD Peter Panjan  Materials science and technology  Retired researcher  2022  792 
19.  52423  PhD Domen Paul  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022 - 2024  23 
20.  33326  PhD Gregor Primc  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022 - 2024  266 
21.  34451  PhD Nina Recek  Biotechnology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  85 
22.  37482  PhD Matic Resnik  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022  52 
23.  53463  PhD Pia Starič  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2022 - 2023  53 
24.  39921  Uroš Stele    Technical associate  2022 - 2024 
25.  52497  Maja Šukarov    Technical associate  2022 - 2024 
26.  17622  Janez Trtnik    Technical associate  2022 - 2024  18 
27.  20048  PhD Alenka Vesel  Electronic components and technologies  Researcher  2022 - 2024  693 
28.  51793  Mark Zver  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  15 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  91,035 
Scientific aspects of non-equilibrium plasma and its interaction with solid materials will be elaborated. Plasma will be sustained by radiofrequency, microwave, pulsed and direct-current discharges in various modes and discharge powers up to about 50 kW. Both noble and reactive gases will be used in a range of pressures between about 0.001 and 1000 mbar. Optical emission and absorption techniques, as well as mass spectrometry, high-speed camera, electrical and catalytic probes, will be used for plasma characterization, with an emphasis on self-organized structures in magnetron plasma. Gaseous plasma will be used to tailor surface properties of advanced materials, inactivation of germs, and the deposition of thin films. Methods for the treatment of powder materials will be studied as well. Aspects of plasma techniques for the treatment of organic materials, including agricultural products, will be studied. The plasma methods for the treatment of medical implants such as vascular stents will also be elaborated. We shall draw correlations between the plasma parameters, the surface effects, and the treated materials' properties. Particular attention will be devoted to radiation in the deep ultraviolet range of wavelength, and the correlations between the radiation, the effects of charged particles, and the chemical effects caused by neutral gaseous radicals. The physical and chemical vapour deposition techniques will be used for thin-film deposition. We shall deposit a wide variety of thin films, including polymer-like protective coatings, nanostructured materials for possible application in electrochemical devices, and ceramic hard protective coatings. Their properties will be tailored for implementation in industrial applications, with an emphasis on nanolayered, nanocomposite and self-lubricant coatings. In addition, deposition chamber related influences will also be taken into account, such as the emission of microdroplets and flakes, which are seeds for growth defects. The surface structure and composition will be studied by X-ray photoelectrons spectroscopy, Secondary ion mass spectrometry, Auger electron spectroscopy and Glow-discharge optical emission spectroscopy. Properties of thin films will be studied by depth profiling using these techniques and in-situ nanomechanical testing (for measuring nanohardness and fracture toughness), both at room and at high temperature. These studies will be augmented by tribological studies, particularly at elevated temperatures. The morphology will be studied by atomic force and scanning electron microscopies, while surface free energy by drop-shape analyzer using a sessile drop method. Scientific results will be prepared for publication in renowned international journals, whereas patent applications will protect inventions with commercial potential. The results will also be disseminated in public media, scientific meetings and fairs.
Significance for science
Non-equilibrium gaseous plasma sustained in molecular gases consists of the original molecules, their fragments, positively and negatively charged ions, free electrons, as well as newly formed stable and unstable molecules and molecular clusters. Many plasma species are found in various electronic, vibrational and rotational states. Furthermore, plasma is also a source of radiation, of which the radiation in the ultraviolet and vacuum ultraviolet is particularly important. The collective movements in magnetized plasma have also been observed. The research programme will contribute to understanding plasma kinetics and the interaction of plasma species with solid materials. Innovative methods for plasma characterization will be introduced and applied for studying the basic phenomena in gaseous plasma. The breakthrough is expected in understanding the underlying mechanisms that regulate the formation of spokes and illuminate the connection of these structures to the transport and energy of sputtered species in magnetized plasmas useful for thin-film deposition. The study on the kinetics of neutral reactive species like atoms and molecular fragments will enlighten the plasma chemistry and the role neutral reactive species play in modifications of solid materials treated by highly-non-equilibrium gas. Yet another breakthrough is expected as a result of systematic characterization of plasmas sustained in molecular gases and gas mixtures by vacuum ultraviolet spectrometry. The combination of various characterization techniques will improve the knowledge on the behaviour of non-equilibrium states of gases powered by different gaseous discharges. A high potential impact is in the field of self-organized structures in magnetron sputtering, the so-called ionization zones, where we recently published several highly cited papers. These phenomena belong to a broad field of E×B discharges which are also used in ionic propulsion for space satellites. Breakthrough results are also expected in the kinetics of germs inactivation upon treatment with gaseous plasma. Methods for the inactivation of viruses in the liquids, including the aerosols, will be elaborated. The influence of various reactive species and the plasma radiation will be studied systematically and result in understanding the mechanisms of virus inactivation. The inactivation of mould will also be studied using powerful plasma reactors, and the results will provide scientific knowledge on the role of various plasma species on the inactivation kinetics. Despite broad applications, the kinetics of functional groups' formation on the surface of organic materials is still not understood. The experiments will be performed using selected plasma species to provide an explanation of the kinetics of the functional groups' formation and substitution of initially-formed groups with more complex groups. The surface reactions versus the fluencies of reactive species and radiation will be studied and result in a database on surface coefficients versus the coverage with functional groups. The surface kinetics upon irradiation of organic materials with radiation in the vacuum ultraviolet part of the spectrum has rarely been studied, so our research will represent a breakthrough in understanding this phenomenon. While the techniques for deposition of various hard, chemically inert and self-lubricating coatings have been used in industry for decades, the details are still not well understood. The research activities will enlighten the growth of various features in the plasma-deposited films, such as growth defects. The high-temperature tribology will be used as a feedback loop in tuning the coating mechanical and tribological properties at real operating conditions. The microstructural evolution will be studied systematically during the high-temperature testing and thus contribute to understanding the scientific aspects of defects in plasma-deposited thin films. Measuring the fracture toughness of a few micrometre thick films was made possible only recently, with the development of new in-situ nanoindentation systems. This impacted the whole field of material testing, giving birth to a new field of small scale mechanical testing of different materials. Our team is among the first to perform detailed work in this scientific niche. Systematic experiments with a high temperature in-situ nanomechanical tester will impact the field of fracture toughness and nanoindentation measurements across hetero-phase solid-state interfaces. The science of highly porous thin-film growth mechanisms from complex precursors is still in its infancy. We shall open a new field in the niche of graphene-like film deposition from solid or liquid precursors. The kinetics of ablation of such precursors upon plasma conditions will be elaborated, and so will be the mechanisms resulting in the growth of vertically-oriented graphene-like materials. The scientific results will be published regularly in renowned international journals and disseminated at scientific conferences and topical workshops. Extensive results in new scientific niches will be prepared for publication in scientific books.
Significance for the country
Our research team has been collaborating with the local industry for decades. We plan to continue or even upgrade the services provided, to improve products or technologies' quality and suggest innovative solutions. In the period 2014-2020, the team gained over 0.5M€ annually from industrial users. A significant fraction of this income is devoted to the development of innovative technologies and products useful for Slovenia and EU industry as well as agriculture. The experimental and theoretical work on growth defects and high-temperature tribology will help our industrial partners optimize the hard coatings used in numerous applications. In Slovenia, there is a very strong automotive sector with numerous mid-size tooling companies. They are too small to afford extensive R&D on their own and small enough to be easily adaptable to market requirements. We shall keep providing solutions for such companies, which will strengthen the Slovenian industry. The research team is also collaborating with the automotive industry in other niches. The basic research on plasma and surface kinetics upon deposition of protective coatings using plasma-assisted chemical vapour deposition techniques will help our industry improve the coatings' properties and decrease the treatment time; both will increase the competitiveness in the global market. The research on eco-friendly techniques for the deposition of high-quality films useful in electrochemical devices will enable the industrial partners a critical estimation about the feasibility of new production concepts. The knowledge will be protected by patents worldwide that will protect the intellectual property and enable comparative advantage. The research in the field of plasma agriculture will help to introduce ecologically benign techniques in farming practice. An increasing fraction of European consumers prefer ecologically produced food and is ready to pay more for healthy food. The activities will improve the quality of some products and help keep the small farms profitable. The balanced development of rural areas is among Slovenian policy priorities, so our activities will be beneficial also for socioeconomic development. The research on the inactivation of viruses in waters, including aerosols, will give directions for developing reliable devices for suppression virus spreading. The currently available masks capture the viruses, but their inactivation is sporadic. The viruses remain infective for a prolonged time, which inhibits the masks' reliability. Novel techniques for rapid inactivation on the adsorption sites will make the masks more efficient and prolong their shelf time.
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