Historic Evolution of Thin Film Laboratory

(Estbld. August 24, 1970)



In August 1970, in one corner of the Physics Department of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, a small group of research scholars led by Professor K.L. Chopra commenced work to build thin-film technology facilities. Thus, the nucleus of a Laboratory was born. Despite constraints of finances, personnel and equipment in the early years, rapid growth took place, helped to a large measure by the zeal, dedication and unremitting labor of the research workers.  Today, fifteen years later, the Thin Film Laboratory of the Physics Department, I.I.T. Delhi, is internationally recognized as a Research School of excellence in the fields of Solid State Physics and Technology of Thin Films.


The Laboratory has established, facilities for depositing films of metals, insulators, semiconductors and alloys in amorphous as well as polycrystalline and single crystal form by thermal evaporation, sputtering (dc-, rf-magnetron and ion-beam), glow discharge, ion plating, electrolysis, solution growth, spray pyrolysis, chemical conversion, chemical vapor deposition, splat quenching and melt spinning techniques under clean room conditions. Vacuum coating units, in the medium and ultra high vacuum range, with accessories for monitoring, controlling and in-situ measurements have been developed indigenously.  The facilities allow the preparation of films under controlled conditions and the study of structural, thermal, electrical, magnetic and optical properties thereof.


The Laboratory is unique of its kind in the country in having deposition, analytical, measurement, device fabrication and evaluation facilities under one roof.  The research group of the Laboratory operates and maintains such central facilities as Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), Scanning electron Microscope (SEM), Scanning Auger Microprobe (SAM), Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA), Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (SIMS), Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy (STS), Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM), Near Field Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM), Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect (MOKE) based MH loop tracer, Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM), Thin Film/Surface X-ray Diffractometer using Rotating Anode, X-ray Reflectivity Measurement set-up, X-ray Fluorescence, Spectroscopic Ellipsometer, Ultraviolet, Visible and Infrared (IR) Double Beam Spectrophotometers, FTIR spectrophotometers, Deep Level Transient Spectrometer, Differential Thermal Analyser, Surface Profiler, and Nanoscope.


The wide range of capabilities of the Laboratory have been utilized to undertake a spectrum of activities ranging from sophisticated technological areas to the frontiers of basic and applied solid state physics. The guiding philosophy of the Laboratory has been the attainment of academic excellence. The desire is tempered with an equally strong commitment to apply the fruits of research wherever possible. This is reflected in the large number of consultancy projects, product/process improvement and know-how transfer to the Indian industry.


Development of mission oriented scientists has been one of the major facets of the Laboratory's interests. The Thin Film Laboratory has contributed highly qualified scientists to R/D institutions, both in India and abroad, and skilled technologists to the domestic industry, some of whom have started their own industry. This has been achieved by sponsoring M.Tech. and Ph.D. research and development projects in the Laboratory. Inter-departmental faculty members associated with the Laboratory have played a leading role in undergraduate and postgraduate course and curriculum development in the Physics Department and in establishing M.S., M.Sc., M. Tech. and B. Tech. programmes of the Department. Members of the Laboratory offer courses, at the under-graduate and post-graduate levels, on thin film phenomena, vacuum technology, materials science, non-crystalline materials, solid state electronics, surface science, electron microscopy, characterization of materials and advanced experimental techniques.


Looking back in time, we feel a certain sense of pride and satisfaction. This document is intended to provide a bird's-eye view of the Thin Film Laboratory-the research activities, the experimental facilities established, the devices/processes developed, consultancy services rendered and technical know-how transferred.


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