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

Prof. Lad has been at the University of Maine since 1988, and is a member of the Frontier Institute For Research in Sensor Technologies (FIRST), 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 42 grants totaling over $40 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 115 journal publications and given over 200 presentations at scientific meetings. He has advised individual research projects for 7 postdocs, 15 Ph.D., 6 M.S., and 63 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, GLAD,  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 (now known as FIRST) 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 FIRST home page:


Recent Publications:

“Distinguishing Bulk Conduction from Band Bending Transduction Mechanisms in Chemiresistive Metal Oxide Gas Sensors,” A. Reghu, L.J. LeGore, J.F. Vetelino, R.J. Lad, B.G. Frederick, J. Physical Chemistry C (2018);  doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.8b01446.

“Enhanced Crystallinity in h-BN Films Induced by Substrate Biasing During Magnetron Sputtering,” D.M. Stewart, R.J. Lad, Physica Status Solidi B  255 (2018) 1700458; doi:10.1002/pssb.201700458

“Electronic and Thermal Properties of Stoichiometric Pt3Si Films Grown by Co-Evaporation,” R.T. Fryer, R.J. Lad, J. Materials Science 53 (2018) 3524-3536; doi:10.1007/s10853-017-1758-2

“Zirconium Diboride Thin Films for Use in High Temperature Sensors and MEMS Devices,” D.M. Stewart, G.P. Bernhardt, R.J. Lad, Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VIII, edited by L. Fonseca, M. Prunnila, E. Peiner, Proc. of SPIE Vol. 10246, 102460Q (2017) SPIE; doi:10.1117/12.2266561.

“Stability of Pt/Al2O3-Based Electrode Langasite SAW Sensors with Al2O3 Capping Layer and Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Sensing Layer,” A. Maskay, A. Ayes, R.J. Lad, M. Pereira da Cunha, Proc. of 2017 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium (2017) 1-4.

“Langasite 2.45 GHz ISM Band SAW Resonator for Harsh Environment Wireless Applications,” M. Pereira da Cunha, A, Maskay, R.J. Lad, T. Coyle, G. Harkay, Proc. of 2016 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium (2016) 1-4.

“Rotorcraft Turbine Engine Applications of the Environetix Wireless High Temperature Surface Acoustic Wave Micro-Electromechanical Machines Sensor System,” J. Moffatt, M. Pereira da CunhaR.J. Lad, J. American Helicopter Society 61 (2016).

“Comparison of PtSi Films Grown by Solid-State Reaction and by E-Beam Co-Evaporation: Thermal Stability in Air at 1000°C,” R.T. Fryer, R.J. Lad, MRS Advances 1 (2016) 1539-1544.

“Electrical Conductivity and Thermal Stability of Pt3Si, Pt2Si, and PtSi Films Grown by E-beam Co-evaporation,” R.T. Fryer, R.J. Lad, J. Alloys Compounds  682 (2016) 216-224.