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Alperton, United Kingdom

Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Smart - Proof of Concept | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2015

One of the most important methods currently available for characterising the surface properties of powders and porous materials is their ‘Brunauer–Emmett–Teller’ (BET) surface area which is determined using a gas adsorption isotherms, normally using nitrogen [1]. Such isotherms also provide key information on the pore structure, surface chemistry and morphology of powders. So utilitarian has become this laboratory technique that there are probably worldwide over 50,000 of these BET instruments in daily laboratory operation. However, these systems cannot be used to study monolithic thin film samples. The characterisation of such thin films is an area of increasing importance for semi-conductor, nano-porous films, graphene, catalysts and photo-voltaic materials to name but a few important industrial applications. The ability to study the surface properties and structures of these classes of materials is key to both their development and their future commercialisation. This project will evaluate the technical feasibility of determining gas and vapour adsorption isotherms on thin film substrates with surface areas of only a few square millimetres using a novel ellipsometric adsorption instrument. This instrument would allow a range of surface properties of monolithic thin films to be determined for the first time routinely including surface area, surface energy, surface heterogeneity, surface diffusion, surface reactivity and surface porosity. Such property measurements are key to the development of many classes of new nano-structured thin film materials. Such a successful development would offer the scope of commercialising Adsorption Ellipsometer as a major new research tool for the development of thin film materials.

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