Beneath the AVS Surface Spotlights IREAP Researcher Gottlieb Oehrlein

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Schematic diagram of the surface reaction for different exposure conditions

Materials Science and Engineering Professor Gottlieb Oehrlein and his research team discovered a solution for inducing controlled chemical transformations – and they have since published two papers on their findings. The researchers began with a chemical reaction to a surface followed by energy input using electron bombardment.

Controlling these chemical transformations through this electron beam-induced etching process means that atomic-scale devices can be fabricated without damaging the top layers of a given device.

“This work is initially of greatest interest for semiconductor manufacturing,” Oehrlein said, “but also applicable to fabrication of quantum structures, or new devices used in biotechnology, catalysis, or renewable energy, such as advanced batteries or fuel cells.”

The two papers published in the AVS Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A were featured in the December 2022 and February 2023 issues of the Beneath the AVS Surface newsletter. An ambitious and difficult project, Oehrlein credits the efforts of his former Ph.D. student Kang-Yi Lin, as well as IREAP staff Thomas Weimar, Nolan Ballew, and Don Schmadel for their “outstanding contributions” to this research.

“I am very happy to see that the scientific community was so excited about this work to highlight it several times for a large audience,” Oehrlein said. 

Oehrlein’s lab is now set up to explore the possibilities of what this etching method means for developing new materials.


Find more about Professor Gottlieb Oehrlein’s research on the Laboratory for Plasma Processing of Materials website. Here are the two papers mentioned in this article: 

Published April 12, 2023