Our research


FunMat-II is generating new knowledge on material synthesis and design for cutting tools, fuel cells and batteries, and provide highly skilled personnel.

Specifically, FunMat-II is:

  • Improving the understanding of synthesis methods of functional surfaces.
  • Searching for, developing, and validating new and improved materials using knowledge-based design, including materials behavior during service.
  • Educating and training people in materials science and surface engineering, from high-school students and their teachers to undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty, and industrial personnel.

Research projects

Corrosion-resistant and resilient multicomponent coatings for electrochemical devices

Contact person: Per Eklund

Multicomponent alloys exhibit unique chemical and physical properties and therefore attract growing interest in the materials science community. Thin-film research on multicomponent alloys include metal alloys, carbides, nitrides, and oxides. They offer opportunities for corrosion-resistant steels and other metal alloys, while simultaneously retaining good electrical properties/conductivity, an essential advance in contact application such as contact plates for fuel cells and batteries.

The overall research question/objective to be addressed is the development and fundamental understanding of the emerging class of multicomponent coating materials, with focus on metallic alloys and nitrides/carbides. The WP covers projects on low contact resistance coatings for fuel cells, coatings for fuel rods in nuclear application, substrates for corrosion-resistant and resilient coatings for electrochemical devices, energy-efficient PVD processes, and electrochemically active coatings.

Data-driven design of novel hard coatings

Contact person: Igor Abrikosov

We will explore the emerging concept of data-driven materials design, significantly enhancing its capability by disclosing fundamental structure-property relations and addressing the key challenge of the method, a definition of reliable search targets, so called descriptors. We will focus on new wear resistant multifunctional coatings, optimizing the coating’s thermal stability, chemical inertness, mechanical integrity, and thermal conductivity. Our interest is to predict properties expected to be important for hard coatings for metal cutting tools, such as hardness, toughness (especially at application relevant temperatures) and friction/interaction with the work piece materials to be cut.

High-temperature properties of nitrides for hard coating applications

Contact person: Igor Abrikosov

At industrial machining the coating is subject to high working temperature (≈1000 °C) and pressure (≈2 GPa). The temperature dependent effective potential method (TDEP) was developed in our group and it revealed the significant effect of anharmonicity on the thermal stability of TiAlN hard coatings and was successfully used to predict the elastic constants and elasticity anisotropy at elevated temperatures. Within FunMat-II we will utilize the efficient TDEP technique and other advanced theoretical approaches to explore the dynamical properties of novel hard materials at high temperature. The obtained results will be used to advance the high-throughput search of novel hard coatings in the project Data-driven design of novel hard coatings.

Towards reducing energy consumption during physical vapor deposition

Contact person: Grzegorz Greczynski

In this project we aim to make the PVD processing more environmentally friendly. Efficient energy and resource consumption in industrial processes has been defined by United Nations as one of the sustainable development goals. The novel method proposed by us enables growth of high-quality coatings with a reduction of the process energy consumption by up to 83% (doi.org/10.1016/j.surfcoat.2021.127120; doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-05975-5).

This approach is based on the use of high mass metal-ion irradiation for effective creation of low energy recoils that provide surface mobility sufficiently high to grow dense films even in the absence of external substrate heating. Apart from saving process energy the additional advantage is that coatings can be applied on temperature-sensitive substrates such as, for example, light metal alloys or polymers. 


schamatic picuture for the project on reducing energy consumption during physical vapor deposition


In-situ plasma characterization

Contact person: Grzegorz Greczynski

The new state-of-the-art mass and energy analyzer especially suited for analyses in harsh plasma environments (such as those during cathodic arc deposition) is now available at LiU. With special features such as active water cooling and magnetic shielding, this instrument will enable plasma analyses under conditions identical to those during film growth. Precise knowledge of plasma composition and energy distribution of involved species is crucial for the advanced control of a coating’s nanostructure and phase composition. For example, newly developed cathodic arc sources will be characterized. Such characterization is also essential for the project on environment-friendly PVD growth (ion fluxes from recycles targets, background gas analysis, etc.). 


schematic picture of in-situ plasma characterisation

Defects in industrial tool coatings

Contact person: Magnus Odén

Defects such as point defects, stacking faults and grain boundaries have a large impact on the macroscopic properties of a material. The fundamental understanding of various defects present in hard nitride coatings is still very much incomplete. In FunMat-II we aim to understand the nature of defects and their relative importance in hard nitride coatings and to understand their influence on the mechanical properties. The approach is a combination of experimental and theoretical work.

Wear mechanisms of hard coatings

Contact person: Lina Rogström

The industry is continuously striving to develop coating materials with an improved wear resistance for the design of next generation high performance cutting tools. To optimize the material properties, knowledge on the wear mechanisms on an atomistic scale during machining is crucial. Within FunMat-II, we use a combination of electron microscopy, mechanical testing, and in operando high-energy x-ray diffraction techniques during metal cutting to target the behavior of the tool coatings.

electron microscopy images of Si, Mg, Mn, Ca, Fe, Cr, Al, Ti

Measurement of elastic properties

Contact person: Lina Rogström

Elastic properties for thin films are difficult to characterize, due to for example substrate influence, while experimental data is required to verify the theoretically predicted values. For many hard coating applications, the high temperature properties are important and high temperature measurements of elastic constants are even rarer and techniques still need to be developed. In FunMat-II we use optical techniques to determine elastic properties of hard coatings as a function of temperature. The results are used to verify theoretical calculations of elastic properties. 

green laser set up

Educational seminars

Contact person: Emma Björk

The sum of knowledge and competence of the research and industrial organizations participating in FunMat-II is very high, and significant new knowledge will further be gained within the center. Spreading this information within the center, as well as sharing our expertise with external universities and industries, will strengthen the competitiveness in Swedish industries.

In FunMat II we arrange 2 open seminars/webinars yearly with speakers both from the center as well as invited experts. The seminars can be directed towards a broader audience or focusing on cutting edge research for university staff and high technology industries. Read more about our seminars under Activities.


Inspiring tomorrow's engineers

Contact person: Emma Björk

Swedish industry is in continuous need of new employees with relevant education in materials science. The project addresses the question on how the ratio of high school students, especially females, continuing with science and technology studies at universities could be increased. Graduating more students with a materials science education requires both more students that enters the university education, and also study curriculums designed to ensure good knowledge in materials science. Thus, active work must be done to inspire more young people to proceed to the university, and to adapt educational methods to decrease the step between secondary high school and university. In addition, the course curriculum at university level can be adapted to the requirements of material science knowledge within Swedish industry.

In FunMat-II we have designed a program where high school students yearly interact with people from the university to raise the interest for higher education. Also, high school teachers are trained further in material science. In addition, the gap between industrial needs and course curriculum within material science is identified to develop new material science courses.

We are arranging an Introduce a Girl to Engineering (IGE) day yearly, and our researchers are active in the development of new courses and programs at the university level.


high school students visiting FUnMat-II's exhibition


decorative illustration of hexagons in blue, orange and gray

Publications 2024

Publications 2023

Articles in journals

Publications 2022

Articles in journals

Doctoral, licentiate and student theses

Publications 2021

Articles in journals

Doctoral, licentiate and student theses

  • Magnetron sputtered high entropy alloy coatings and the effects of adding carbon
    L. Zendejas Medina (licentiate thesis) 

Publications 2020

Articles in journals

Publications 2019

Articles in journals

Publications 2018

Articles in journals

Doctoral, licentiate and student theses

  • Thermal conductivity of hard coatings and thermoelectric thin films
    Bourgeoi, Fannym (student thesis)
  • Synthesis and Characterization of Thin Films based on the Fe-Cr-Ni-C System
    Zendejas Medina, Leon (student thesis)

Publications 2017

Articles in journals

Doctoral, licentiate and student theses