Interfacial and Surface Science

NREL addresses a broad range of fundamental and applied issues in surface and interfacial science that are critical for advancing sustainable energy technologies.

Surface and interface phenomena often control the opto-electronic, chemical, or mechanical properties of materials and device structures used in energy-harvesting and storage applications such as photovoltaics, fuel cells, and batteries.


Field Auger Electron Spectroscopy With Scanning Auger Microscopy

Field Auger electron spectroscopy with scanning Auger microscopy measurements provide compositional mapping and depth profiling of matrix elements (~1 atomic % composition and above). 

X-Ray and Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopy

X-ray/ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy quantifies near-surface compositions and chemical states, and correlates these with surface valence-electronic structure and interfacial band alignments. 

Surface Analysis Cluster Tool

The surface analysis cluster tool enables a better understanding of reactions and kinetic processes at surfaces. 

Dynamic Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy

Dynamic secondary ion mass spectrometry, also known as magnetic-sector secondary ion mass spectroscopy, provides the ultimate in low detection limits for all species in the periodic table.  

Static Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy

Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry provides surface spectroscopy of both inorganic and organic materials, and is capable of detection limits in the sub-ppm range.  

Inverse Photoemission Spectroscopy

Inverse photoemission spectroscopy provides direct information on conduction-band density-of-state at surfaces and interfacial conduction-band alignments.

Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy

Secondary ion mass spectrometry is a powerful analytical technique useful for measurements of dopants and impurities in semiconductors and other materials.

Chalcogenide Deposition Chamber

This tool enables deposition of inorganic chalcogenides and for basic material and device studies, and for in situ interface formation for band-offset studies. Recent work has focused on thin-film growth and surface/interface studies of the novel Earth-abundant thin-film PV absorber Cu2ZnSnS4.

Atomic, Molecular, and Nanocrystal Deposition Apparatus

Called AMANDA, this novel deposition tool is configured to deposit a variety of materials used in third-generation PV and related technologies. Examples include novel thin-film absorbers based on organometallic lead halide perovskites and semiconductor quantum dots.


The Materials Science Center is part of the Materials, Chemical, and Computational Science directorate, led by Associate Lab Director Bill Tumas.