About the group
Prof. Abelson's research group works mainly in the field of thin film growth and properties. Offices and laboratories are located at the Engineering Sciences Building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The research projects are in close cooperation with other research groups (both from UIUC and other universities) and industry.
Thin films are extensively used in a number of applications ranging from memory devices or integrated circuits to hard coatings and solar cells.
Understanding the properties and the growth process of these materials is not only interesting from a scientific point of view, but also contributes to the development of devices with improved performance.
Our research focuses in several topics within this field: tailoring the deposition conditions to obtain a conformal growth of metals, metal diborides and oxides by chemical vapor deposition using novel organometallic precursors, the study and growth of phase change materials, the determination of medium medium range order in materials using fluctuation electron microscopy or the evolution of the surface microstructure during thin film nucleation and growth constitute some of our current research lines.
Currently the group has four deposition chambers in its laboratories.
Surface growth/analysis chamber
The surface growth/analysis system consists of two connected chambers for thin film growth and in-situ surface analysis. Techniques available are: ellipsometric spectroscopy, FT-IR, mass spectrometry, Auger and RHEED. The chamber contains a plasma source for assisting the growth process.
Small hot-wire CVD/oxide growth chamber
It is mainly used for growing a-Si:H thin films by Hot-Wire CVD and oxide films by low temperature CVD. An ellipsometer attached to the chamber is used for monitoring the growth process as well as for in-situ analysis of the films.
Epitaxial growth chamber
The high-temperature epitaxial growth chamber is currently being rebuilt to increase the temperature range up to 1200C and minimize the contamination from the walls. It is used for studying the epitaxial growth of MB2 materials.
A sputtering/evaporation chamber for growing chalcogenide materials is currently being built. It is composed of two chambers and a loadlock system for insertion and transfer of samples. The second chamber contains a sputtering system for growing a-Si..
Fluctuation electron microscopy and medium range order
The group has a broad experience in the fluctuation electron microscopy technique using the TEM facilities at MRL, as well as on different simulation strategies for modeling the microstructure and growth of thin films.