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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X030202/1
Title: Advanced Thin Film Sputtering Fabrication Facility (TF-FAB)
Principal Investigator: Zoppi, Professor G
Other Investigators:
Beattie, Professor NS Torun, Dr H Barrioz, Dr V
Birkett, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Kurt J Lesker Co Ltd
Department: Fac of Engineering and Environment
Organisation: Northumbria, University of
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 January 2023 Ends: 02 January 2026 Value (£): 971,033
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Instrumentation Eng. & Dev. Materials Characterisation
Materials testing & eng. Solar Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Nov 2022 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2022 - Panel 2 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Physical vapour deposition methods are recognised techniques to fabricate reproducible and durable coatings for industrial applications. The Advanced Thin Film Sputtering Fabrication Facility (TF-FAB) will provide a state-of-the-art facility for the fabrication of functional nano and micro-coatings for energy conversion and storage, sensing and biomedical devices. TF-FAB is a fully automated dual chamber magnetron sputtering system. Each chamber will include four magnetrons and associated power supplies, multiple gas lines, helium gas injection for localised doping, large substrate handling with heating and substrate plasma bias. In-situ ellipsometry will provide vital optical information of the growing films. TF-FAB will provide a platform to develop films with fewer impurities and defects, higher density, reduced thickness to increase the efficiency of solar cells or improved adhesion, hardness and biocompatibility to increase the lifetime of a total joint arthroplasty implants.

TF-FAB will enable impact research in three distinctive areas: energy materials, biocompatible coatings and functional layers. This includes the following materials and applications:

-Energy materials: Chalcogenides PV, hole and electron transport layers, Na- and Mg-based storage, Solid state electrolyte, electrodes

-Biocompatible coatings: Ti-based super alloys, diamond like coatings, antimicrobial films

-Functional layers: current sensing, metamaterials, transparent conductors, biosensors, wear resistant

The facility provides a platform for researchers to develop new inorganic thin films for energy materials, biocompatible and functional coatings. It supports unprecedented recent growth in thin film research at Northumbria University. TF-FAB is a game-changing facility for research areas that have been recognised internationally and have delivered impact at successive REF exercises. TF-FAB provides a transformational capacity increase in thin film fabrication and will create new collaborative opportunities between academia and industry for the rapid screening of new materials offering a unique breadth of materials range with high throughput and reproducibility.

TF-FAB will directly support research which fits with the UK and regional 'clean growth' and 'ageing society' grand challenges. It aligns with the Engineering Research Infrastructure Roadmap under 'Materials fabrication' and also 'In-situ testing and characterisation' areas for further investment. These areas align with the Advanced Materials strategy from the Advanced Materials Leadership Council, in particular 'Materials for Health' and 'Materials for Energy'. TF-FAB will support research in energy materials, and electrical and bio-functional coatings which align with EPSRC prosperity outcomes such as 'healthy' and 'resilient' nation as well as several of the UK Innovation Strategy technologies including 'Advanced Materials and Manufacturing', 'Energy and Environment Technologies'. The system will be used to produce metal and transparent conductive oxides and dielectrics for photovoltaics, electrode materials for fuel cells and batteries, super alloys, electrical sensing and biocompatible films encompassing strategic priorities such as 'engineering net zero', 'transforming health' and frontiers in 'engineering, manufacturing and technology' and associated themes.

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