Robert J. Lad

Robert J. Ladlad
Professor of Physics

  • 1980  B.S., Northwestern University
  • 1986  Ph.D., Cornell University

Office: 265 ESRB (Barrows Hall)

Phone #: (207)581-2257

EMail Link:

Research Interests:

  • Surface and Interface Properties of Materials
  • Synthesis and Processing of Ceramic and Semiconducting Thin Films
  • Electronic Properties of Materials;
  • Thin Film Sensor Materials
  • Metal-Ceramic and Ceramic-Ceramic Interfaces
  • Defect Microstructure of Materials
  • Scanning Probe Microscopy
  • X-ray Diffraction
  • Tribology of Hard Coatings
  • Reactivity and Degradation of Ceramic Surfaces and Films
  • Chemical Gas Sensors
  • High Temperature Materials

Robert J. Lad has been at the University of Maine since 1988, and is a member of the Laboratory for Surface Science & Technology (LASST), an interdisciplinary research center at UMaine that focuses on surfaces, interfaces, thin films, micro-devices, and nanotechnology.  He has been the PI or Co-PI on more than 40 grants totaling over $36 million from agencies including NSF, ONR, DARPA, DOE, NASA, AFOSR, AFRL, ARO, and several industries, to support his research programs.  He and his students have authored more than 100 journal publications and given over 185 presentations at scientific meetings. He has advised individual research projects for 7 postdocs, 13 Ph.D., 6 M.S., and 55 undergraduate students.

His laboratory contains a versatile Thin Film Synthesis, Processing & Characterization facility that is equipped with instrumentation including several different thin film deposition techniques (e-beam, sputtering, ALD, plasma-assisted growth), x-ray and uv photoelectron spectroscopies, electron and x-ray diffraction, scanned probe microscopies, high temperature furnaces, and a controlled-atmosphere conductivity/Hall effect apparatus.

Prof. Lad obtained a B.S. in Materials Engineering from Northwestern University in 1980, and Ph.D. in Materials Science from Cornell University in 1986 working on high temperature gaseous corrosion of metallic alloys.  Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Maine, he was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Applied Physics at Yale University, where he studied the surface science of metal oxides and performed photoemission studies of the electronic structure of oxide materials at the National Synchrotron Light Source. He was the Director of UMaine’s Laboratory for Surface Science & Technology (LASST) from 1996-2014, and he received the UMaine Presidential Research and Creative Achievement Award in 2004, a UMaine System Trustee Professorship in 2006, and the Distinguished Maine Professor Award in 2013.

Web Link to LASST home page:


Recent Publications:


“Influence of Dosing Sequence and Film Thickness on Structure and Resistivity of Al-ZnO Films Grown by Atomic Layer Deposition,” E.B. Pollock and R.J. Lad, J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 32, 041516 (2014).

“Properties of Amorphous SiAlON Thin Films Grown by RF Magnetron Co-Sputtering,” G.P. Bernhardt, J.I. Krassikoff, B.T. Sturtevant, R.J. Lad, Surface & Coatings Technology 258, 1191–1195 (2014).

“High Temperature Stability of Electrically Conductive Pt-Rh/ZrO2 and Pt-Rh/HfO2 Nanocomposite Thin Film Electrodes,” S.C. Moulzolf, D.J. Frankel, M. Pereira da Cunha, R.J. Lad, Microsyst. Technol. 20, 523–531 (2014).

“Tetrahedrally Coordinated Disordered (Cu2SnS3)1-x(ZnS)x Alloys with Tunable Optical and Electronic Properties,” P.T. Erslev, M.R. Young, J.V. Li, S.C. Siah, R. Chakraborty, H. Du, R.J. Lad, T. Buonassisi, G. Teeter, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 129, 124-131 (2014).

“Energy Conversion Efficiency of an Exponentially Graded Thermoelectric Material,” Zhi-He Jin, T.T. Wallace, R.J. Lad, Ji Su, Journal of Electronic Materials 43, 308-313 (2014).

“Wireless Battery-Free Harsh Environment Sensor System for Energy Sector Applications,” M. Pereira da Cunha, R.J. Lad, D. Frankel, S C. Moulzolf, M. Call, G. Bernhardt, D. McCann, T. Pollard, E. McCarthy, IEEE Future of Instrumentation International Workshop Proceedings (2013).

“Thin Films and Techniques for Above 1000°C SAW Sensor Operation,” R. Behanan, S.C. Moulzolf, M. Call, G. Bernhard, D.J. Frankel, R.J. Lad, M. Pereira da Cunha, Proc. of 2013 International Ultrasonics Symposium, pp. 1013-1016 (2013).

“Capacitively Coupled IDT for High Temperature SAW Devices,” S. C. Moulzolf, R. Behanan, T. Pollard, R.J. Lad, M. Pereira da Cunha, Proc. of 2013 International Ultrasonics Symposium, pp. 255-258 (2013).

“Properties of SiAlO2N Protective Coatings on Surface Acoustic Wave Devices,” B.T. Sturtevant, M. Pereira da Cunha, R. J. Lad, Thin Solid Films 534, 198-204 (2013)

“Langasite SAW Pressure Sensor for Harsh Environments,” S.C. Moulzolf, R. Behanan, R.J. Lad, and M.   Pereira da Cunha, Proc. of 2012 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, Dresden, Germany, pp. 1224-1227 (2012).

“Challenges in Ceramic Science: A Report from the Workshop on Emerging Research Areas in Ceramic Science,” G.S. Rohrer, R.J. Lad, et al., J. Am. Ceram. Soc. 95, 3699-3712 (2012).

“Temperature Threshold for Nanorod Structuring of Metal and Oxide Films Grown by Glancing Angle Deposition,” D. Deniz, R.J. Lad, J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 29, 011020 (2011).

“Charge Transport in Flat and Nanorod Structured Ruthenium Thin Films,” M.M. Steeves, D. Deniz, R.J. Lad, Applied Physics Letters 96, 142103 (2010).

“Influence of Nanostructure on Charge Transport in RuO2 Thin Films,” M.M. Steeves, R.J. Lad, J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A, 28, 906 (2010).

“Nanostructured Tungsten and Tungsten Trioxide Films Prepared by Glancing Angle Deposition,” D. Deniz, D.J. Frankel, R.J. Lad, Thin Solid Films 518, 4095 (2010).