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Jens Birch

Deputy Head

Professional preparation


Linköping University Materials Physics Professor 2006
FENIX, Chalmers TU SSF Research Program Management   2003
Linköping University Materials Physics Docent 18/12-00
ESRF, Grenoble Materials Science Diffraction Postdoc 25/6-95-23/6-96
Linköping University Thin Film Physics PhD 1994
Linköping University Appl. Physics & Electr.  Eng. MSc 1988
Umeå University Mathematics 20p 1983

Research Summary

Jens Birch, professor in Thin Film Physics, received his PhD in 1994 at IFM and spent one year as a post doctoral fellow at ESRF in  Grenoble . His PhD thesis and his subsequent research has focused at understanding the physics and materials science behind creation of new, previously unknown materials, with unique properties in the form of nanometer sized layers. The layer thicknesses range from 0.5 nm (a few atomic layers) to a few hundreds of nm. Some of the materials, so called multilayers and superlattices, are, in turn, built up by stacking several hundred individual nm-sized layers on top of each other with extremely high precision and structural perfection.

Unique physical properties of the materials can be achieved when they are synthesized in such small dimensions. One example from Birch’s research is the ability to create highly reflective layers for X-rays by tailoring multilayers and superlattices both with respect to layer thicknesses and the choice of materials. The technique is used to create optics for high resolution X-ray optical instrumentation such as microscopes, telescopes, and monochromators for synchrotron and free-electron laser radiation.

Not only are the physical properties of the materials altered by being synthesized on a nano-scale, but also their stability. An example is the alloying of aluminium nitride and indium nitride to a semiconductor material with a composition and physical properties which can not be achieved in bulk form.  Such metastable alloys are very important for opto-electronic applications.

In order to perform this kind of materials science on a nanometer scale, Birch is developing deposition processes based on modification of the growth kinetics by means of ion-surface interactions during the formation of the thin films. Thermodynamic processes are suppressed and surface processes can be controlled by utilizing ions to add kinetic energy and momentum only to the surface atoms rather than adding thermal energy to the entire material. Also, materials analysis is a large part of Birch’s research and he has developed X-ray diffraction methods which can be used to analyze layers with a resolution of only a fraction of an atom, which is essential for the synthesis of these ultra thin layers.

Professional Appointments

  • Professor, Departmet of Physics,  Linköping University ,  Sweden , 2006 – present
  • Director of the Centre for Nano science and technology (CeNano) at  Linköping   University , March 2003 – 2007
  • Associate  Professor (Universitetslektor) Departmet of Physics,  Linköping University ,  Sweden , April 2001 – 2006
  • Research Assistant (Foass), Department of Physics,  Linköping University ,  Sweden , September 1997 – March 2001
  • Research engineer (Foing), Department of Physics,  Linköping University ,  Sweden , July 1996-September 1997
  • Coordinator and Board secretary of SSF Materials Research Consortium on Thin Film Growth. 1996-2000
  • Post Doc, ESRF,  Grenoble ,  France , June 1995-June 1996
  • Research engineer, Department of Physics,  Linköping University ,  Sweden , December 1994-June 1995.
  • Teaching and research assistant, Department of Physics, Linköping University, Sweden, June 1988 - December 1995.
  • Laboratory assistant, Ericsson Components Stockholm, June-September 1985 and April - June 1986

Other Appointments and Undertakings

  • Project leader of the for surface-, interface-, and thin film diffraction experimental station at the Materials Science Beamline I811, MAX-lab,  Lund , March 2000 – 2004
  • Member of the Board of the Department of Physics and Measurement Technology,  Linköping   University , 1999 - 2005

Publications and invited presentations


  • Main supervison of 5 PhD students
  • Co-supervison of 11 PhD studentsOngoing PhD Student Research Supervision
  • Responsible and Lecturer in Grad courses: “X-Ray Diffraction” and “Scattering Analyses from Thin Films”
  • Responsible and Lecturer in Under-grad courses; “Nanotechnology”, “Analytical Methods in Materials Science”, "Classical Physics", and “Materials Science”, “New Materials”

Networks in Academia

  • Prof. H. Hertz, KTH, X-ray microscopy
  • Prof. E. Olsson, Chalmers, Transmission Electron Eicroscopy
  • Prof. B. Hjörvarsson,  Uppsala   University , Growth of ultrathin films, magnetic characterization, neutron scattering
  • Prof. Ilia Katardjiev,  Uppsala   University , Growth and characterization of III-Nitrides
  • Prof. I. Abrikosov,  Linköping   University , First principle calculations on materials  
  • W. Möller, Forschungszentrum Rossendorf, Ion beam analysis, ERDA, RBS, NRA
  • Dr. F. Schäfers, Experimental Division, BESSY,  Berlin , X-ray reflectivity measurements
  • Dr. E. Gullikson,  Center  of  X-Ray Optics , ALS Berkely, Growth and X-ray reflectivity of multilayer mirrors


  •   Patent: IPN: WO03046247 Method of synthesizing a compound of the Formula Mn+1AXn film of the compound and its use(2003)
  • Patent application: SPV 0850109-0 “A hard compound coating” (2008)

Other merits of relevance

  • Program committee member and Session Chair in more than 10 International conferences
  • TFR Scholarship for a postdoctoal position at the ESRF, July 1995-June1996
  • Nobels Price for Peace (part in), 1988, given to the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces

Responsible for this page: Thomas Lingefelt
Last updated: 11/01/11