2019 Advanced Course: Advanced X-Ray Diffraction Methods for Coatings: Strain, Defects and Deformation Analysis of Thin Films


Today, coatings are used in many applications for decorative or / and functional purposes. In functional coatings, the surface properties of the substrates such as adhesion, corrosion or wear resistance can be changed. In semiconductor device fabrication, the coating adds completely new properties such as electrical conductivity, magnetic or optical responses. This course uses X-ray Diffraction techniques (XRD) to investigate the structural properties of coatings obtained by different deposition methods.

Understanding the structure of thin films will improve their fabrication. After introducing basic thin film and HR-XRD characterisation methods, fundamental theory and limitations will be discussed including examples of films in applications and how their structures influence characteristics.

Real samples will be measured. In-house protocols will be presented for establishing reproducible and reliable measurements, and for interpreting stress/strain and materials defect levels.


  • Introduction to different X-Ray techniques
  • Relationships between physical and structural properties
  • High resolution X-Ray techniques
  • Coherent and non-coherent scattering
  • Texture and stress
  • Coatings case studies
  • Examples of successful technology transfers using X-ray techniques


Please click here to register on-line for this course.

Deadline for registration is Friday, 8 November, 2019.

The course is taught in English and is limited to a maximum of 16 participants.


Monday 25 November to Wednesday 27 November 2019


Empa, Dübendorf


Prof. Alex Dommann

Dr. Antonia Neels

Who should attend

Industrial and academic engineers, PhD students and researchers.

The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 16.

This course may be validated for 1 ECTS credit in the doctoral programmes of EPFL and ETH Zurich, after acceptance by the corresponding institution. In this case, full attendance and a final examination will be requested.

Participation Fees

The fee for the course is CHF360 for doctoral students from EPFL, ETHZ, PSI, Empa and CSEM and CHF460 for doctoral students from other academic institutions and other academic researchers. The registration fee for all other participants is CHF1500. The fee includes lunches and coffee breaks. Additional VAT may apply. 


Travel and accommodation should be reserved and paid for directly by the participants.

Lecturer Biographies

Alex Dommann

Alex Dommann obtained his Ph.D. at ETH Zurich after graduating in solid-state physics and crystallography at the University of Zurich.

He was a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology, a research scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institute and at ETH Zurich’s Laboratorium für Festkörperphysik. In 1991, he was appointed Professor of materials research at the Interstate University of Applied Sciences Buchs, where he was Scientific Head of the Institute for Microsystems from 1997—2004. In 2005 he was appointed CTO of the CSEM, Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique at Neuchâtel. In July 2013 he was appointed Head of Department “Materials meet Life” at Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. His research concentrates on the structuring, coating and characterization of thin films, MEMS and bio-interfaces. He made significant contributions to all aspects of thin films characterization and aging of MEMS. More than 10 years of experience in space projects. His studies led to a variety of new semiconductor structuring and coating processes. His contributions have opened up exciting possibilities for future research in the area of semiconductor and MEMS structuring, thin films and Bio-coatings.

He is a member of different national and international technical and scientific committees.

Antonia Neels

Antonia Neels studied chemistry at the Humboldt- University of Berlin between 1986 and 1991. She obtained a PhD. Thesis from the University of Neuchâtel in 1995. She then held a postdoctoral position at the Texas A & M University with Prof. A. Clearfield. Since 1996 she has been appointed Maître Assistante at the University of Neuchâtel in the group of Prof. Helen Stoeckli-Evans. She has been leading the XRD laboratory at the IMT EPFL (former UniNE) and CSEM from 2006 until 2014. Since 2014, she is responsible for research and development of X-ray analytics for novel materials, components of / and systems at the Center for X-ray Analytics at Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.

Her interests are focused on new materials, their fascinating structures leading to new physical properties and applications. She is experienced in the development and application of X-ray based analytical methods in the emerging fields of chemistry, biology, physics and microtechnology. Her research is focalized on the study of strain and defect mobility in materials and / or systems (thin films, coatings, interfaces, MEMS) especially in space and medical applications. She is teaching crystallography at different universities in Switzerland and has published more than 200 academic research papers.