Surface Science And Vacuum Technology

Early in the 90s, this group started to emerge as a branch of the Centre of Molecular Physics of the Universities of Lisbon. A new lab was equipped with modern surface analysis techniques pursuing ion interactions with surfaces in keV energy region, including sputtering, scattering and ionization.

The large background in high and ultra-high vacuum led to the creation of a new lab targeting an approach to the national industry via the calibration of vacuum gauges and consultancy. METROVAC was officially recognized as an accredited calibration laboratory in 2002. Soon this laboratory broadened its accreditation scope to include the metrology of ultra-low flows, including reference leaks and leak detection. These new skills gave the motivation to start a new area of research studying the transport of gases and vapors through cork and desorption of contaminants. Achievements on this subject quickly attracted the attention of cork stopper manufacturers and fruitful collaborations have started.

Meanwhile, the surface science lab underwent in a collaboration with CERN regarding the study of secondary electron emission from carbon coatings, which are used in the accelerator walls to mitigate the formation of the electron cloud. This cloud is one of the major limitations to increase the beam luminosity in particle accelerators, but also introduces major technological problems in telecommunication satellites and spacecrafts in general. Nowadays the surface science lab has two fully operational XPS (X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy) systems and one Tof-SIMS (Time-of-flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer.  In recent years, great experience has been accumulated in the emission of secondary electrons from surfaces and in the chemical characterization of nanostructured surfaces.

Recently the two labs fully merged their capabilities to design a high accuracy ionization gauge where the problems induced by the secondary emission in the ion collector were carefully addressed.