God made the bulk; surfaces were invented by the devil. With this statement, Pauli joked about the strange properties of surfaces and their seemingly chaotic behavior. After several years, surface science has progressed a lot, establishing the base on which a wide array of different devices were developed while new instruments for the surface preparation and characterization were refined. What scientists have uncovered is just a glimpse of the possible applications of surface science, and the years to come are going to be marked by the progresses in this field.
My PhD will be focused on how chemical and physical interaction can modify a surface and shaped it to achieve a desired structure or to engineer its properties. To do so, I will characterize the surfaces taking advantage of different techniques, such as X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Raman Spectroscopy.
For the chemical-modified surface topic, my investigation will be focused on the study of eumelanin, for potential applications in organic bioelectronics. In particular, I’m investigating its electronic/ionic charge transport properties, starting from the controlled deposition of one of its monomers, the 5,6-dihydroxy-2-indolylcarboxylic acid (DHICA) on different substrates. I’m also optimizing the process so as to be able to perform all the steps in the same vacuum chamber, starting from the growth of high quality Cu and graphene substrates, to the characterization of the final eumelanin film.
For a physical point of view, instead, I will investigate surfaces that have been treated with femtosecond laser micromachining. With this treatment, it is possible to change and control the wetting behavior of a surface, and to obtain effect such as super-hydrophobicity or super-hydrophilicity. Moreover, it has been seen that the degree of surface wettability is influenced by the exposure of the irradiated samples to a specific environment. Charactering these modified surfaced can lead to interesting advance in the study of the dependence of rheological phenomena on surface wettability and structure, and lead also to practical applications on fouling and drag reduction.
Master’s Degree in Material Science and Technology, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, 2012