For more than 15 years, the WBGM group, led by prof. dr. Ken Haenen, is active in the field of wide band gap materials, with a strong emphasis on the deposition and characterisation of CVD diamond films. In addition, the properties of novel materials like hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) nanowalls and thin piezoelectric aluminium nitride (AlN) layers are investigated. Recently, new research lines were set-up aiming at the use and functionalisation of nanodiamond particles and film surfaces with small molecules. Besides fundamental research topics, like the nucleation and doping of diamond, device-driven research tries to make use of the extreme properties of said materials by using them in structures like “solar-blind” UV detectors, or acoustic wave sensors based on heterostructures of nano- and microcrystalline diamond with piezoelectric materials like AlN. Many of our research efforts, which can ultimately play an important role in devices such as biosensors, drug delivery agent, and solar cells, are done in collaboration with other IMO-IMOMEC groups.
The exploitation of diamond as a next generation smart material with tailored (surface) properties is part of several national and international projects and collaborations. Through its different members, WBGM is also involved in many international conferences, workshops and journals that deal with the science and application of diamond and related materials. A yearly returning highlight in this framework is the organisation of the “Hasselt Diamond Workshop – SBDD” series, an international 3-day venue that annually attracts about 160 international scientists, making it the 3rd largest meeting in the world of its kind.