The Hess research group investigates thin film and coating processes for application in: surface modification, wetting, absorption, and liquid transport; microfluidics; integrated circuits; nanotechnology; sensors; solar panels. Fundamental relationships between film/interface processing methods, chemical and physical structure, and chemical, physical, optical, and electrical properties are investigated to allow the design and formation of films and interfaces for these applications. Surface modification of metals, dielectrics, polymers, paper, and paper-board generates value-added products from these low-cost substrates, by creating hydrophobic, superhydrophobic, oleophobic and superoleophobic behavior.

A variety of techniques are used to deposit, remove, modify, and characterize films, surfaces, and interfaces that supply fundamental knowledge about their properties and characteristics. Specific processes of interest for film and coating formation and alteration include spin-casting, plasma-assisted methods, chemical vapor deposition, liquid treatments, and vapor exposure.