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Materials Chemistry

The Surface Engineering and Materials Chemistry Section at Southwest Research Institute focuses on solving client materials problems through bulk and surface modification, process enhancement, and new material development, coupled with specialized testing and characterization. The combined laboratories comprise more than 5,000 square feet of facilities dedicated to vacuum, atmospheric, and wet chemistry-based surface modification and coating of advanced materials.

  • SwRI has a full compliment of PVD and CVD technologies including 10 vacuum coating chambers with some that are 3 cubic meters in size. SwRI is able to satisfy client coating needs and controlled engineering of surface properties.

  • The largest ion beam facility in the U.S. provides ion beam assisted coatings and ion implantation research and services.

  • Specialized facilities are available for evaluations that utilize state-of-the-art materials characterization such as atomic force microscopy (AFM) and fiber optic probes, coupled with Raman and IR spectrometers.

  • The section employs 14 technical staff members with a variety of expertise in polymeric, ceramic, and metallic materials. Section employees are involved in developing and characterizing advanced materials, as well as incorporating these materials into industrially viable applications and environments.

SwRI offers services to the aerospace, chemical, defense, biomedical, and petroleum commercial industries, as well as government clients. Industrial clients range from start-up companies and small manufacturers to blue chip corporations in the U.S. and abroad. SwRI initiates contracts with clients based on initial consultations. A research proposal outlines the scope of work and establishes a cost estimate. Programs remain confidential, subject to client wishes.

To learn more about Surface Engineering, visit http://www.swri.org/4org/d18/mateng/matdev/ionsurf/default.htm.

Michael A. Miller, Institute Scientist

Technical strengths and contacts in the section include:

Other Technological Areas:


  • Michael A. Miller
    • Materials Physical and Analytical Chemistry
    • Process and Molecular Modeling
    • Polymer Composite Processing
    • Intelligent Polymer Processing
    • Sensors
    • Electrochemistry
    • Raman Imaging Spectroscopy
    • Materials Synthesis
    • Catalysis
    • Inorganic Materials
    • Organometallics
    • Organic Synthesis
    • Polymer Synthesis
    • Polymer Characterization
  • Plastics Fabrication
  • Polymeric Biomaterials
  • Medical Plastics
  • Polymeric Medical Devices and Components
  • Microscopy
  • Spectroscopy
  • Microtomy


  • Michael A. Miller
    • Biomaterials
    • Tissue Engineering
    • Polymer Scaffolds
  • Biomaterials
  • Microtomy
  • Specialized Characterization
  • Microscopy
  • Spectroscopy
  • Ben H. Thacker, Ph.D.
    • Metallic Biomaterials
    • Device Failure and Analysis
    • Materials Characterization
    • Porous Materials
  • Dan Nicolella, Ph.D.
    • Mechanical Testing
    • Biomechanics
    • Finite Element Analysis
    • Bone Mechanics
    • Tissue Micromechanics
    • Probabilistic Biomechanics
  • Carl Popelar
    • Specialized Device and Materials Testing and Test Methodology
    • Mechanical Testing


  • Kent Coulter, Ph.D.
    • Coating Technology
    • Surface Treatments
    • Ion Implantation
    • Ion Beam assisted Deposition
    • Tribology
    • Coating Characterization

To learn more about Materials Development, visit http://www.swri.org/4org/d01/appchem/polyorg/home.htm.

Division Publications

Materials Engineering Department
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April 15, 2014