The Material Science of Thin Films has been designed for graduate students having research focus in the broader field of material science and engineering. In the first part, the course covers fundamentals of materials thermodynamics related to phase formation and nucleation. In particular, the significant part of the course is designed to emphasize the size and curvature effect on nucleation and phase equilibrium. Definition of the most important thermodynamic quantities like surface energy and surface stress is covered in details with examples of their back of the envelope calculation and their practical use in some thermodynamic relations and predictions. In the second part, the course covers in detail phenomena like epitaxy, surface termination and crystal structure, coherency, pseudomorphism, epitaxial misfit, strain energy and elastic approximation for its calculation in thin film geometry.
In addition, the surface diffusion is explored in detail with its relevance to thin film growth in particular to nucleation kinetics, coarsening, and other types of relaxations in thin films driven by surface curvature or strain energy. In the second part, the course covers topics related to thermodynamics and kinetics criteria for growth modes, and conditions leading to 2D and/or 3D growth and growth transitions. Some seminal papers in this area are covered as the course material with an equal emphasis on thin film growth in vacuum and in solutions. The last part of the course focuses on the topic of misfit dislocations, misfit dislocations nucleation, estimate of critical thickness, and stress evolution in thin films. In parallel, course is conducted in such way that students are ask to undergo critical reading of the advanced topics in thin films related to the area of their focus of research and present the examples to the class. The final grade of the course is obtained as a combination of the grades obtained on HW assignments, 20% (example of HW#1) midterm exam, 40% (example of Midterm exam) and grade obtained on the final project, 40%. All exams are take-home exams and require some advance reading of the material and literature search. The approximate list of topics covered in the last course offering (Spring 2009, 15 students) is shown below. The course was a great success, and it was attended by graduate students across the engineering college including students from Electrical, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering Departments.