Surface Engineering (SURF)



Jean-Pierre Celis (coordinator)
Marc De Bonte
Jan Fransaer

The SURF-group does research and development work on coatings and surface modified materials. The group studies the synthesis, structural characterization and functionality of surface modified materials, both experimentally and through modeling. The group's research strategy is to link the processing to the functional properties and to replace the prevailing 'trial-and-error' methods in surface engineering by a scientific approach.

The research on synthesis of surface modified materials is mainly related to electrodeposition with an emphasis on alloy and multilayer deposition, and the electrolytic codeposition of particles with metals. The group has done extensive work on the mechanism of electrolytic co-deposition that resulted in a better understanding of the process. Specific equipment available ranges from rotating disc electrodes, parallel flow cells, potentiostat/galvanostats, electrochemical interfaces for impedance measurements, and quartz micro-balans. Recently, the group has become involved in the electrodeposition for micro-electronic applications. Work is going on related to GMR sensors, spin-valves and the electroplating of permanent magnets and soft magnetic materials. Besides composite plating, the modeling of mass transport towards electrodes and electrical fields near patterned electrodes is investigated. Basic research projects are done on all these subjects in close co-operation with research centers in Europe, USA, China and Japan. Applied contract research is done with industry, and technology transfer is done through the KU.Leuven R&D interface.

For the characterization of physical, mechanical and chemical properties of films and coatings, the group has access to the research infrastructure of the Dept. MTM. A non-exhaustive list of equipment available is SEM-EDX, TEM, XPS, contact and contactless surface roughness equipment, nanoindentation, AFM with liquid cell, LFM, XRD, DSC, DMA, XRF, and AAS-ICP.

Research on functional properties of coated materials is focussed on friction, sliding wear, corrosion, and corrosion-wear. The characterization of coatings and their degradation is mainly done based on internal stress measurements by XRD, TEM on wear debris, and the analysis of tribochemically induced reaction layers. Research on adhesion in surface engineering and tribology is a recent topic within the SURF-group. The type of films and coatings being investigated ranges from electrolytic coatings, conversion coatings, PVD, CVD, to coatings obtained by plasma immersed ion implantation and thermal spraying. Test facilities available are ball-on-disk operated in ambient air or immersed in aqueous solutions or lubricants, fretting equipment with humidity chamber, fretting at high temperature, fretting under oscillating normal load, scratch test, and salt spray equipment. Standardized friction and wear test equipment is accessible through a spin-off company of the SURF-group, Falex Tribology N.V.

Also active within the group is a technological advisory service (TAD-WTCM), providing support and technology transfer of surface technologies to small and medium sized companies.


Research topics:

  • Tribology: friction and wear of materials, inclusive corrosion-wear 


Research strategy

Recent publications

Ongoing Projects

Specific equipment and expertise

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Last modified: March, the 1st, 2001.