Awardee Interviews | Biography: Ivan Petrov

Ivan Petrov

Ivan Petrov
Dr. Ivan Petrov, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “for seminal contributions in determining the role of low-energy ion/surface interactions for controlling microstructure evolution during low-temperature growth of transition-metal nitride layers”

Ivan Petrov is a Principal Research Scientist at the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, an Adjunct Professor of Materials Science, and 1998–2010 Director of the Center for Microanalysis of Materials at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds appointments as Professor of Physics at Linköping University, Sweden since 2010 and as Visiting Professor of Surface Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University, U.K. (2000–2012). Ivan earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the Institute of Electronics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and received the Doctor Honoris Causa Degree in Physics from Linköping University, Sweden. His research interests include nanostructural and nanochemical analyses, thin film physics, and surface science. He was a co-principal investigator in the DOE Transmission Electron Aberration-corrected Microscope (TEAM) project which achieved 50 pm resolution. He has published 250+ refereed papers cited over 5000 times. His review article on microstructural evolution of thin films is among the top 5 most cited in JVSTA. Ivan is an Associate Editor of Surface Science Spectra and Editor of the international journal Surface and Coatings Technology; he is also Chair of the AVS Publication Committee Chair.

Ivan is a Fellow of AVS and received the 2009 Bunshah Award and Honorary Lecture from the Advanced Surface Engineering Division (ASED. He also received the 1996 DOE award for Sustained Outstanding Research for “development of new metastable nitride-based ceramic alloys, superlattices, and multilayers with enhanced properties” and the 2009 R&D100 award as a co-inventor of the TEAM electron microscopy stage.

Ivan’s early work includes now-classic papers on the modeling of magnetron plasmas and investigations of reactive magnetron sputtering. He pointed out the importance of the ion/metal flux ratio Ji/JMe in concert with the ion energy Ei incident at the growing film In addition, he carried out detailed Langmiur probe investigations of magnetron plasmas in the 1980s to quantitatively characterize sputtering plasmas in terms of atomistic parameters including fluxes and energy distributions of both ionized and neutral particles.

Ivan conducted the first systematic study of the effects of ion/metal flux ratio Ji/JMe and ion energy Ei on microstructure evolution in hard coatings, employing a combination of surface analysis techniques, high-resolution XTEM (HR-XTEM), and electron and x-ray diffraction, together with J.E. Greene, (U of I), J.E. Sundgren, and L. Hultman, (Linköping University, Sweden). He demonstrated that ion bombardment regimes in which Ei is maintained constant at values less than lattice-atom displacement energies, with high Ji/JMe values (up to > 50), provide the ability to controllably manipulate film nanostructure during low-temperature growth of polycrystalline transition metal (TM) nitride films. He also used high Ji/JMe flux ratios with low-energy ions to carry out low-temperature epitaxy of a wide range of TM nitride compounds, alloys, and metastable phases in order to determine their fundamental physical properties. Examples include the first epitaxial CrN(001), ScN(001), TaN(001), CeN(001), YN(001), HfN(001), VN(001), ZrN(001) compounds, and their alloys, as well as epitaxial metastable cubic Ti1-xAlxN(001), Ti1-xWxN (001), Sc1-xTixN(001), and Hf1-xAlxN(001). His determinations of the properties of this class of materials are referred to as reference standards in the field.

Ivan also pioneered the growth and interfacial reactions of polycrystalline metal/nitride bilayers and multilayers presently used in industrial hard coating manufacturing. Together with D. Münz, and later P. Hovsepian, at Sheffield Hallam Univeristy (UK), based on detailed analyses of interface formation by analytical HR-TEM, he developed the technology of interface engineering by metal-ion etching in arc, and later HIPIMS, discharges to achieve local epitaxial growth of transition metal nitride layers on individual grains of steel and tungsten carbide substrates, thus dramatically enhancing coating adhesion.

Ivan, with V. Kouznetsov and U. Helmersson at Linköping University (Sweden), was a pioneer of the most important development in physical vapor deposition in the past 15 years: high power impulse magnetron sputtering (HIPIMS). He carried out the first detailed characterization and modeling of HIPIMS discharges. His plasma probe measurements demonstrated that HIPIMS discharges are very efficient sources of metal ions. The results are published in seminal papers that launched HIPIMS as a burgeoning field of research and, today, industrial applications.

In recent years, through a series of ~20 papers, Ivan used in-situ temperature-dependent STM and LEEM measurements during deposition and post-annealing in order to provide atomic-scale insights into the surface dynamics controlling the morphological evolution and texture of hard coatings to determine, for the first time, absolute orientation-dependent step energies, step stiffnesses, and the activation barriers for island coarsening on TiN(001) and TiN(111) surfaces. Ivan and collaborators also used high-temperature in situ STM, combined with ab-initio DFT calculations, to demonstrate that SiNx layers grow epitaxially, giving rise to strong interfacial bonding, on both TiN(001) and TiN(111) surfaces. These results provide key insights into the development of design rules for developing new superhard nanocomposite materials.