“ That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on the way to a pertinent answer. ”
Prof. Schwarz is co-director of the Garcia Center for Polymers at Engineered Interfaces. Activities at the Center include an annual symposium, and an annual open house for local high school students and teachers. We have supervised or co-supervised several high school students in the Westinghouse competition. Center research topics address the fundamental mechanisms of film adhesion, strength, chemical resistance, friction, and related properties which impact the widespread application of polymer coatings or polymer surface/interface modification. These studies typically employ SIMS to monitor the motion, on an atomic scale, of isotopically tagged polymer blend components within a thin film. We work in collaboration with groups at SUNY - Stony Brook, Polytechnic, the College of Staten Island, and other institutions.
Additional studies in our laboratory address numerous material systems, such as ohmic contacts on III-V semiconductors. In these contact studies, the samples are examined by a backside SIMS technique, in which the sample is chemically thinned and profiled through the semiconductor substrate in order to obtain high depth resolution. We are also studying fundamental ion-solid interactions, in order to obtain a better understanding of isotope effects, preferential sputtering, and fragmentation patterns in SIMS depth profiles.
SIMS (secondary ion mass spectrometry) - An Atomika quadrupole SIMS instrument with simultaneous AES (Auger electron spectroscopy) capability is employed for thin film depth profiling, with parts-per-million sensitivity and better than 10 nm depth resolution.
XPS (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) - A Kratos ES300 XPS system with an adjoining sample preparation chamber is used to characterize polymer thin films.
Ellipsometer - A Rudolf ellipsometer allows measurement of film thickness and refractive index for thicknesses ranging from nanometers to microns.
Surface profilometer - A Dektak IIA measures surface height variations with a resolution of ~1 nm.
TEM sample preparation - Several pieces of equipment, including a Gatan precision ion polisher (PIP), are employed to prepare thin specimens for the College's JEOL1200 TEM (transmission electron microscope).
Polymer film preparation - Facilities for synthesis, spin coating, floating, and vacuum annealing are employed in polymer film studies.
Rheometer - The lab will soon be equipped with a Rheometrics ARES rheometer for temperature dependent measurement of thin film mechanical properties.