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UNF receives NSF instrument grant for cutting-edge research equipment

Professor and students working on equipment in the physics lab

UNF received a $247,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase a magnetron sputtering thin film deposition system that will further enhance cutting-edge physics and engineering research and teaching at the University.

The deposition of thin films with precisely controlled physical properties is an essential component of many important technological applications, including the fabrication of integrated circuits, the creation of optical components and the development of wear-resistant coatings.

The magnetron sputtering system will significantly enhance UNF’s research on the development and characterization of new thin-film materials and devices with tailored electrical, optical and mechanical properties. The system will also enrich the training of students across multiple science and engineering disciplines at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

This new equipment will amplify UNF's interdisciplinary materials science and engineering efforts which include the state-of-the-art technologies in the Materials Science and Engineering Research Facility as well as the recently established Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering degree program.

The machine will be utilized by four UNF researchers:

  • Lead researcher Dr. Daniel Santavicca, physics associate professor, studies microwave-frequency devices based on high-kinetic-inductance superconducting nanowires with applications ranging from single-photon detection to quantum computing. The sputtering system will enable Santavicca to fabricate these devices at UNF, greatly expanding the capabilities of his research program.

  • Gregory Wurtz, physics chair, studies plasmonic nanostructures such as spasers or plasmonic lasers and cut-disk resonators. The sputtering system will enable Wurtz to fabricate these samples for the first time at UNF, complementing existing facilities for optical characterization and simulation.

  • Steve Stagon, mechanical engineering associate professor, studies thin-film coatings for applications ranging from surface enhanced raman spectroscopy to wear-resistant coatings for high-speed machine tooling. The proposed system will significantly expand the range of materials he is able to study.

  • Maitri Warusawithana, physics assistant professor, grows complex oxide heterostructures using molecular beam epitaxy. The sputtering system will create new possibilities to develop these samples into microfabricated devices such as wires, capacitors, and tunnel junctions in order to characterize the complex oxide materials and to produce functional devices.