A diverse range of chemical, biological, and physical interactions occur at the surface. Hence, it is of great importance to develop methodologies with which surface characteristics of materials and devices can be investigated and/or modified for specific applications. One well-known example involves the development of hydrophobic, in other words, water repellent surfaces. Development of the optimum hydrophobic surface on a specific material would require extensive research about the correct choice of the coating material, its adhesion and durability in adverse environmental conditions, as well as the fabrication procedure. Characterization and modification of the surface further require a wide range of instruments which can probe the surface at different depth scales from a few atomic layers to microns. Some of the commonly used techniques include electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, x-ray fluorescence, x-ray diffraction, x-ray photo-emission spectroscopy, Raman microscopy, ultrafast spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry, among others.
Realizing this key role of surfaces in controlling the functionalities of materials and devices, faculty members from the College of Sciences and College of Engineering submitted a proposal to the State Planning Agency (DPT) in 2009 to establish a research center on surfaces: Koç University Surface Science and Technology Center (Koç Üniversitesi Yüzey Teknolojileri Araştırma Merkezi, KUYTAM). KUYTAM, which received start-up funding from DPT with additional funding from Koç University, was established in 2010 as the first research center in Türkiye on surface sciences. Prof. Dr. İskender Yılgör (Department of Chemistry) served as the Principal Investigator of the project and the Founding Director of KUYTAM between 2010 and 2013. Dr. Özgür Birer, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, continued as the director of KUYTAM between 2013 and 2015. The current administration of KUYTAM consists of:
– Uğur Ünal, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Director
– Alper Uzun, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Associate Director
– Barış Yağcı, doctoral researcher, Associate Director
The current KUYTAM research team further includes:
1) Hadi Jahangiri, doctoral researcher, PhD in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
2) Yağız Morova, part-time doctoral researcher, PhD in Physics Engineering
3) Amir Motallebzadeh, doctoral researcher, PhD in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
4) Gülsu Şimşek Franci, doctoral researcher, PhD in Materials Science and Engineering
KUYTAM was established over a 600-m2 area in the College of Sciences building. It houses a wide range of state-of-the-art instruments dedicated to studies in surface sciences, and provides characterization services for external users from other institutions as well as Koç University faculty members from the College of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, and Social Science and Humanities. Currently KUYTAM has 15 affiliated faculty members from Koç University.
Currently, KUYTAM houses 30 characterization instruments, grouped under the following seven laboratories:
1) Surface Analysis Laboratory
2) X-ray Laboratory
3) Spectroscopy Laboratory
4) Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy Laboratory
5) Wet Chemistry Laboratory
6) Atomic Force Microscopy and Nanoindentation Laboratory
7) Coating Laboratory
In addition to instrumentation housed in KUYTAM, there are other facilities in Sciences and Engineering, supported by KUYTAM, including a live-cell imaging microscope (used by faculty members from Molecular Biology and Medicine), 5-axis CNC fabrication facility, white-light interferometer, and a reactive ion etching system.