Surface Engineering
& Materials Chemistry

image of Atmospheric Plasma Pressure Jet

Atmospheric Plasma Pressure Jet

image of Plasma Enhanced Magnetron Sputtering

Plasma Enhanced Magnetron Sputtering

image of Plasma Immersion Ion Deposition

Plasma Immersion Ion Deposition

image of Parts with Diamond Like Carbon Coating

Diamond Like Carbon Coating

image of Prototype Coater

Prototype Coater

image of Pre-production Coater

Pre-production Coater

Solving client materials problems is the focus of the Surface Engineering and Materials Chemistry Section at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). Our capabilities include:

  • Bulk and surface modification
  • Thin film and thick coating deposition
  • Process enhancement
  • New material development
  • Specialized testing and characterization

Surface Engineering and Materials Chemistry Facilities

Combined laboratories of more than 5,000 square feet of facilities are dedicated to:

  • Vacuum surface modification
  • Atmospheric plasma modification
  • Wet chemistry-based surface modification
  • Coating of advanced materials

SwRI has a full complement of physical vapor deposition (PVD) and chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and ion implantation technologies.

PVD techniques include:

  • Plasma enhanced magnetron sputtering (PEMS)
  • High power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS)
  • Deep oscillation magnetron sputtering (DOMS)
  • Electron beam evaporation (E-beam)
  • Ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD)

CVD techniques include:

  • Plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD)
  • Plasma immersion ion process (PIIP) and deposition (PIID)
  • Chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
  • Cathodic Arc
  • Atmospheric pressure plasma jets (APPJ)

Ion implantation techniques include:

  • Plasma immersion ion implantation (PIII)
  • High energy ion beam implantation

PVD and CVD processes use RF, pulsed DC, HiPIMS, and DC power supplies

These techniques may be carried out in one of SwRI’s 10 vacuum coating chambers. A few of the chambers are 3 cubic meters in size. SwRI assists clients in developing coatings from the prototype stage to pre-production. SwRI is able to satisfy client coating needs and controlled engineering of surface properties. A few of the coatings that SwRI specializes in are:

  • Diamond like carbon (DLC) (0.1-30μm)
  • Superhard, ultra-thick nanocomposite coatings (>45GPa, 10-500μm) , nanocrystalline nitrides in amorphous SICxNy, including TiSiCN, CrSiCN, TiAlSiCN, TaSiCN
  • Multifunctional nanocomposite coatings
  • Multilayer and superlattice coatings
  • Traditional hard tribological coatings including TiN, CrN, AlTiN, AlCrN, etc.
  • Oxide coatings with high- and low-refractive index
  • Spray coatings
  • Oleophobic coatings
  • Hydrophobic coatings
  • Web coating
  • Roll-to-roll coating

Specialized facilities are available for evaluations that utilize state-of-the-art materials characterization such as:

  • Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
  • Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM)
  • Fiber-optic probes
  • Raman spectrometers
  • IR spectrometers
  • Tabor testing
  • Nanoindentation
  • Ball-on-disk tribometer
  • Scratch and indentation adhesion test
  • X-ray diffraction
  • High-temperature wear test

Surface Engineering and Materials Chemistry Expertise

The Surface Engineering and Materials Chemistry Section employs 15 technical staff members with a variety of expertise in:

  • Graphene
  • Carbon nanotubes (CNTs)
  • Diamond
  • MOFs and COFs
  • Polymeric materials
  • Metallic materials
  • Ceramics
  • Developing and characterizing advanced materials
  • Incorporating new materials into industrially viable applications and environments

SwRI offers services to the aerospace, chemical, defense, biomedical, and petroleum commercial industries, as well as government clients. Industrial clients range from start-up companies and small manufacturers to blue chip corporations in the U.S. and abroad. SwRI initiates contracts with clients based on initial consultations. A research proposal outlines the scope of work and establishes a cost estimate. Programs remain confidential, subject to client wishes.

Learn more about Surface Engineering.

Learn more about Materials Chemistry.

Related Terminology

ion surface engineering  •  ions  •  ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD)  •  diamond-like carbon (DLC)  •  coatings  •  ceramics  •  plasma immersion ion processing  •  energetic ion beams  •  ion implantation  •  gaseous ions  •  high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS)  •  plasma immersion ion process (PIIP) and deposition (PIID)  •  hydrophobic coatings   •  oleophobic coatings  •  deep oscillation magnetron sputtering (DOMS)  •  graphene  •  carbon nanotubes (CNTs)  •  atomic force microscopy (AFM)  •  scanning electron microscopy (SEM)  •  Raman spectroscopy  •  Tabor testing  •  Wear resistant coating  •  corrosion resistant coatings  •  contract coaters  •  research and development

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.