The Surface Chemistry Branch conducts experimental and theoretical S&T programs to study surfaces and solids including the properties of the gas-solid, liquid-solid, and solid-solid interface. These programs develop a fundamental understanding of the properties and behavior of surfaces and solids through composition, structure and dynamics measurements taken under a variety of conditions (temperature, environment, ionizing radiation, and electron/photon excitation). This knowledge is then used to develop new or improved surfaces, coatings and materials for Naval applications. Examples of the research programs include developing sensitive and quantitative techniques for surface and interface analysis, some with nanometer scale spatial resolution; developing improved fluid and solid lubricants; modifying surfaces to reduce friction, wear, erosion, corrosion, and adhesion or to improve adhesion; developing new film deposition technologies to tailor surface properties using plasma, chemical vapor, electrochemical, Langmuir-Blodgett, and other deposition technologies; understanding the chemical reaction dynamics on surfaces as they pertain to film deposition, etching, corrosion and catalysis; understanding and developing biomolecular interfaces, thin films and coatings; developing microsensors for the rapid and sensitive detection of chemical, biological and radioactive species in air and fluids; and improving electrochemical power sources such as fuel cells and batteries.
The Branch maintains state-of-the art experimental and computational facilities. Examples of the surface and materials analysis techniques found in the Branch include scanning tunneling microscopy, atomic force microscopy, lateral force microscopy, scanning Auger microprobe, high resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy, low energy electron diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, spectroscopic ellipsometry, electroanalytical techniques, impedance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, surface area and porosimetry, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, X-ray diffractometry, micro- and nano-indentation instrumentation, hardness tester, adhesion and scratch testers, lubrication and wear testers, and mass spectrometry.
The Branch uses its expertise and analytical techniques to help the Navy solve interface- and coatings related problems. Areas of expertise include solid and liquid lubrication, surface modification to reduce wear or corrosion, advanced coatings, fuel cells, batteries, thermoelectric and electronic materials, electrocatalytic surfaces for environment and contaminant control, nanofabrication, nanolithography, chemical sensors, biological sensors, radiation sensors, microfluidics, waste remediation, and pollution prevention.
The personnel in the Surface Chemistry Branch have an understanding of Navy problems and a reputation for working with the SYSCOMS, Naval repair facilities and fleet with problems relating to interface phenomena. Branch personnel also work with industrial partners to transfer Navy technologies to commercial applications and new products.