Officials at the University of Dayton announced that the school has created a new research center focused on various thin-film investigations and applications. The initiative, dubbed the Center of Excellence in Thin-Film Research and Surface Engineering (CETRASE), hopes to deliver significant breakthroughs in everything from fuel and solar cell to optics, sensors, and electronics.

In a UD press releaseGuru Subramanyam says, “We want to find ways to make better, more efficient, cost-effective sensors, electronics, electro-optics, and energy systems and hopefully create new jobs in the region.”

Subramanyam, who is currently serving as leader of CETRASE, is chair of UD’s electrical and computer engineering department, and is one of several CETRASE faculty “team” members. The school says team members come also come for UD’s departments of materials engineering, biology, and physics as well as the electro-optics graduate program and the University of Dayton Research Institute.

As yet, CETRASE is not a center in the sense of being a unified facility. The initiative will encompass work that will be conducted at three different labs.

Subramanyam says CETRASE provides the opportunity to move from ad hoc collaborations to strategic efforts and the pursuit of funding. “It makes sense for us to put our heads together for a center where we can coordinate activities, interact and share common equipment and costs. We also will have strength in numbers when submitting proposals as part of a center,” he says in the release.

In an interview, Subramanyam says before CETRASE was formed, “We had our own separate projects, funding applications and supporters. One or two of us would collaborate if we discovered an overlap, but as a group we didn’t come together until now. Now, for the first time, we will be developing joint priorities and funding proposals. Focusing on joint activities will be a change for us, but as a united group, I think we will be more attractive to funding agencies.”

“In addition,” Subramanyam continues, “we will be holding regular CETRASE events, such as monthly seminars and bringing in invited guest speakers.”

Subramanyam notes that CETRASE has already hired its first dedicated staff member, a PhD who will serve as a coordinator of the center’s activities.

When I asked Subramanyam if CETRASE has any projects that might be of particular interest to the ceramics community, he says, “We have quite a bit of ceramic-related work going on, such as barium strontium titanate thin films for tunable dielectrics, yttrium barium copper oxide thin films and vanadium oxide research for the Air Force.”

He says that one immediate benefit is that CETRASE participants have access to team members’ advanced laser sources, pulse laser deposition systems, SEMs, TEMs, X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy equipment, magnetron sputtering systems, and photolithography tools.

University spokesperson Shawn Robinson tells me UD’s materials engineering research currently ranks second in the nation based on research dollars.