1st Edition

Understanding Surface and Thin Film Science

By Thomas M. Christensen Copyright 2023
    372 Pages 394 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This book is a conceptual overview of surface and thin film science, providing a basic and straightforward understanding of the most common ideas and methods used in these fields. Fundamental scientific ideas, deposition methods, and characterization methods are all examined.

    Relying on simple, conceptual models and figures, fundamental scientific ideas are introduced and then applied to surfaces and thin films in the first half of the book. Topics include vacuum and plasma environments, crystal structure, atomic motion, thermodynamics, electrical and magnetic properties, optical and thermal properties, and adsorbed atoms on surfaces. Common methods of gas-phase thin film deposition are then introduced, starting with an overview of the film growth process and then a discussion of both physical and chemical vapor deposition methods. This is followed by an overview of a wide range of characterization techniques including imaging, structural, chemical, electrical, magnetic, optical, thermal, and mechanical techniques.

    Thin film science is a natural extension of surface science, especially as applications involve thinner and thinner films; distinct from other literature in the field, this book combines the two topics in a single volume. Simple, conceptual models and figures are used, supported by some mathematical expressions, to convey key ideas to students as well as practicing engineers, scientists, and technicians.


    1. Surfaces and Thin Films 

    2. Vacuum and Plasma Environments 

    Part 1: Surfaces 

    3. Crystal Structure 

    4. Atomic Motion: Vibrations, Waves and Diffusion in Solids 

    5. Thermodynamics 

    6. Electrical, Magnetic, Optical, and Thermal Properties 

    7. Adsorbed Atoms on Surfaces 

    Part 2: Thin Films 

    8. Overview of Thin Film Growth 

    9. Physical Vapor Deposition 

    10. Chemical Vapor Deposition 

    Part 3: Characterization of Surfaces and Thin Films 

    11. Characterization: Overview and Imaging Techniques 

    12. Characterization: Structural Techniques 

    13. Characterization: Chemical and Elemental Techniques 

    14. Characterization: Electrical, Magnetic, and Optical Techniques 

    15. Characterization: Thermodynamic, Thermal, and Mechanical Techniques


    Tom Christensen joined the faculty of the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs (UCCS) Department of Physics and Energy Science in 1989. He served the campus as a faculty member, department chair, associate dean, dean and Provost. He co-directed the UCCSTeach program for preparing future secondary science and math teachers. Dr. Christensen received both the College (1993) and campus (1996) Outstanding Teaching Awards, the Chancellor’s Award (2003) to recognize his service and teaching, and the University of Colorado Excellence in Leadership Award (2015). Tom received his B.S. degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Cornell University. He was a Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Labs prior to joining the UCCS faculty. Dr. Christensen’s research in experimental surface physics has led to many published papers in international science journals and presentations at scientific meetings. He has been the principal or co-principal investigator on over $2 million in research grants and contracts for work in surface physics and in science education. He taught 25 different classes at UCCS at all levels from introductory classes for non-majors to graduate level classes. He has served his primary professional society (AVS) on national Education and Diversity committees. In his spare time, Tom plays string bass with the Pikes Peak Philharmonic orchestra and bass guitar with the Physics Classic Rock and Roll Orchestra.