Robert Opila

Robert Opila


Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Email :
Phone : (302) 831-3128
306 Dupont Hall


Dr. Opila is currently the professor of Material Science and Engineering at the University of Delaware and the rotator of Division of Material Research at the National Science Foundation. The group’s research has emphasized interfacial phenomena, including charge transfer at interfaces, metal/polymer adhesion, and the source of electron traps at dielectric/semiconductor interfaces. As electronic and photonic devices become smaller, interfaces between materials are playing an even more important role. In general, the aim of the research has been to relate chemical and morphological structure at the interface to physical properties of the system. As probes of these buried interfaces, traditional surface science techniques, like X-ray spectroscopy and Inverse photoelectron spectroscopy, have been extended to probe buried interfaces. Dr. Opila’s current interests include the role of interfaces in organic light emitting diodes and photovoltaics and semiconductor surface processing.


  • Fulbright Scholar, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (2012-2013)
  • Visiting Professorial Fellow, University of New South Wales (2013)
  • Fellow, American Vacuum Society (2000).
  • Distinguished Member of Technical Staff (1993).
  • Divisional Affirmative Action Award (1993).
  • Prize Paper Award, 34th IEEE Holm Conference (1989).
  • James Franck Scholar, The University of Chicago (1975-1977).
  • B. S. Awarded with Highest Departmental Distinction (1975).
  • Edmund James Scholar, University of Illinois (1971-1975).

Research Interests

  • Next generation photovoltaic device such as organic/silicon hybrids.

  • Spectroscopic analysis of thin films/interfaces for microelectronics.

  • Development of atomic layer etching.

  • Analysis of iconic oil paintings to determine mechanism of degradation.

  • Commercialization of novel technical discoveries.

  • Reliability of electronic assemblies.

Representative Publications


  1. Z. Wang, R. L. Opila, In operando x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy study of mechanism of atomic layer etching of cobalt. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 38, 022611 (2020).
  2. S. Mortazavi, M. Mollabashi, R. Barri, L. Gundlach, K. Jones, J. Q. Xiao, R. L. Opila, and S. I. Shah, Ti:Sapphire laser irradiation of graphene oxide film in order to tune its structural, chemical and electrical properties: Patterning and characterizations. Applied Surface Science 500, 144053 (2020).


  1. N. H. Valdes, K. J. Jones, R. L. Opila, and W. N. Shafarman, Influence of Ga and Ag on the KF Treatment Chemistry for CIGS Solar Cells. IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 9, 1846-1851 (2019).
  2. K. F. Shariar, G. Lin, Z. Wang, P. Cui, J. Zhang, R. Opila, and Y. Zeng, Effect of bistrifluoromethane sulfonimide treatment on nickel/InAs contacts. Applied Physics A 125, 429 (2019).
  3. Yuping Zeng, Sourabh Khandelwal, Kazy F Shariar, Zijian Wang, Guangyang Lin, Qi Cheng, Peng Cui, Robert Opila, Ganesh Balakrishnan, Sadhvikas Addamane, Peyman Taheri, Daisuke Kiriya, Mark Hettick, Ali Javey, InAs FinFETs Performance Enhancement by Superacid Surface Treatment. IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices 66, 1856-1861 (2019).
  4. M. Konh, C. He, X. Lin, X. Guo, V. Pallem, R. L. Opila, A. V. Teplyakov, Z. Wang, and B. Yuan, Molecular mechanisms of atomic layer etching of cobalt with sequential exposure to molecular chlorine and diketones. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 37, 021004 (2019).


  1. A. Iyer, J. Hack, D. A. Angel Trujillo, B. Tew, J. Zide, and R. Opila,, Effects of Co-Solvents on the Performance of PEDOT: PSS Films and Hybrid Photovoltaic Devices. Applied Sciences 8, 2052 (2018).
  2. M. Chen, J. Hack, A. Iyer, X. Lin, R. L. Opila, Chemical and Electrical Passivation of Semiconductor Surfaces. (2018).
  3. M. Chen, J. H. Hack, X. Lin, A. Janotti, R. L. Opila, Electronic Structure Characterization of Hydrogen Terminated n-type Silicon Passivated by Benzoquinone-Methanol Solutions. Coatings 8, 108 (2018).
  4. A. Iyer, J. Hack, A. D. Angel Trujillo, B. Tew, J. Zide, and R. Opila, Effects of Co-Solvents on the Performance of PEDOT:PSS Films and Hybrid Photovoltaic Devices. Applied Sciences 8 (2018).
  5. X. Lin, M. Chen, A. Janotti, R. Opila, In situ XPS study on atomic layer etching of Fe thin film using Cl2 and acetylacetone. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 36, 051401 (2018).
  6. Jennifer L. Mass, D.A. Levin Barnaby, Kayla X. Xguyen, Megan E. Holtz, Malcolm G. Thomas, Eva S. Tveit, Adam C. Finnefrock, Robert Opila, Thomas Beebe, Marcie Wiggins, David A. Muller, Understanding and Predicting Cadmium Yellow Pigment Failure Mechanisms in the Works of the Early Modernists Using STEM Methodologies. Microscopy and Microanalysis 24, 2122-2123 (2018).
  7. S. Mortazavi, Modification of graphene oxide film properties using KrF laser irradiation. RSC advances v. 8, pp. 12808-12814-12018 v.12808 no.12823 (2018).


  1. M. Chen, J. H. Hack, A. Iyer, K. J. Jones, R. L. Opila, Radical-Driven Silicon Surface Passivation by Benzoquinone– and Hydroquinone–Methanol and Photoinitiators. The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 121, 21364-21373 (2017).
  2. B. Yuan, D. A. Flemming, J. Franey, R. L. Opila, C. Xu, Relative Humidity Cycling Effect on Ag and Cu Corrosion. ECS Transactions 77, 767-775 (2017).
  3. A. Hastir, R. L. Opila, N. Kohli, Z. Onuk, B. Yuan, K. Jones, Virpal, and R. C. Singh, Deposition, characterization and gas sensors application of RF magnetron-sputtered terbium-doped ZnO films. Journal of Materials Science 52, 8502-8517 (2017).


  1. Barnaby D. A. Levin, Kayla X. Nguyen, Megan E. Holtz, Marcie B. Wiggins, Malcolm G. Thomas, Eva S. Tveit, Jennifer L. Mass, Robert Opila, Thomas Beebe, David A. Muller, Reverse Engineering Cadmium Yellow Paint from Munch’s “The Scream” with Correlative 3-D Spectroscopic and 4-D Crystallographic STEM. Microscopy and Microanalysis 22, 258-259 (2016).


  1. L. Wang, H. Li, Chao Shen, Jianshu Han, Peinan Teng, Malcolm Abbott, Anthony Lochtefeld, Robert Opila, Allen Barnett, Photoluminescence analysis of a 16.8% efficient 18 μm silicon solar cell. International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering, 5 (No 2), 8 – 14 (2015).
  2. R. L. Opila, G. Ertas, Special Issue: European Conference on Surface Science 2014. Applied Surface Science 354, 241-241 (2015).
  3. Martin Diaz, Li Wang, Dun Li, Xin Zhao, Brianna Conrad, Anasasia Soeriyadi, Andrew Gerger, Anthony Lochtefeld, Chris Ebert, Robert Opila, Ivan Perez-Wurfl, Allen Barnett, Tandem GaAsP/SiGe on Si solar cells. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 143, 113-119 (2015).
  4. J. O. Cross, R. L. Opila, I. W. Boyd, E. N. Kaufmann, Materials characterization and the evolution of materials. MRS Bulletin 40, 1019-1034 (2015).
  5. Kenneth J Schmieder, Andrew Gerger, Martin Diaz, Ziggy Pulwin, Michael Curtin, Li Wang, Chris Ebert, Anthony Lochtefeld, Robert L Opila, Allen Barnett, GaAsP on SiGe/Si material quality improvements with in-situ stress sensor and resulting tandem device performance. Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing 39, 614-620 (2015).
  6. N. A. Kotulak, M. Chen, N. Schreiber, K. Jones, R. L. Opila, Examining the free radical bonding mechanism of benzoquinone– and hydroquinone–methanol passivation of silicon surfaces. Applied Surface Science 354, 469-474 (2015).
  7. Dun Li, Xin Zhao, Andrew Gerger, Robert Opila, Li Wang, Brianna Conrad, Anastasia H Soeriyadi, Martin Diaz, Anthony Lochtefeld, Allen Barnett, Ivan Perez-Wurfl, Optical constants of silicon germanium films grown on silicon substrates. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 140, 69-76 (2015).
  8. J. R. Church, C. Weiland, R. L. Opila, Understanding the role of buried interface charges in a metal-oxide-semiconductor stack of Ti/Al2O3/Si using hard x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Applied Physics Letters 106, 171601 (2015).


  1. S. R. Huang, X. Lu, A. Barnett, R. L. Opila, V. Mogili, D. A. Tanner, and S. Nakahara, Characterization of the Microstructure of GaP Films Grown on {111} Si by Liquid Phase Epitaxy. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6, 18626-18634 (2014).
  2. Lu Wang, Anthony Lochtefeld, Jianshu Han, Andrew P. Gerger, Mark Carroll, Jingjia Ji, Alison Lennon, Hongzhao Li, Robert Opila, Allen Barnett, Development of a 16.8% Efficient 18-μm Silicon Solar Cell on Steel. IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 4, 1397-1404 (2014).
  3. C. Weiland, J. Krajewski, R. Opila, V. Pallem, C. Dussarrat, and J. C. Woicik, Nondestructive compositional depth profiling using variable-kinetic energy hard X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and maximum entropy regularization. Surface and Interface Analysis 46, 407-417 (2014).
  4. N. A. Kotulak, M. Diaz, A. Barnett, R. L. Opila, Toward a tandem gallium phosphide on silicon solar cell through liquid phase epitaxy growth. Thin Solid Films 556, 236-240 (2014).
  5. J. Cui, X. Wang, R. Opila, A. Lennon, Characterization of Silicon Oxides Formed by Light-Induced Anodisation for Silicon Solar Cell Surface Passivation. MRS Proceedings 1647, mrsf13-1647-gg1605-1605 (2014).


  1. J. Cui, X. Wang, R. Opila, A. Lennon, Light-induced anodisation of silicon for solar cell passivation. Journal of Applied Physics 114, 184101 (2013).
  2. M. Çopuroğlu, H. Sezen, R. L. Opila, S. Suzer, Band-Bending at Buried SiO2/Si Interface as Probed by XPS. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 5, 5875-5881 (2013).
  3. X. Lu, R. Hao, M. Diaz, R. L. Opila, A. Barnett, Improving GaP Solar Cell Performance by Passivating the Surface Using AlxGa1-xP Epi-Layer. IEEE Journal of the Electron Devices Society 1, 111-116 (2013).
  4. C. R. Haughn, K. J. Schmieder, J. M. O. Zide, A. Barnett, C. Ebert, R. Opila, and M. F. Doty, Quantification of trap state densities in GaAs heterostructures grown at varying rates using intensity-dependent time resolved photoluminescence. Applied Physics Letters 102, 182108 (2013).
  5. J. L. Mass, R. Opila, B. Buckley, M. Cotte, J. Church, and A. Mehta, The photodegradation of cadmium yellow paints in Henri Matisse’s Le Bonheur de vivre (1905–1906). Applied Physics A 111, 59-68 (2013).
  6. Y. Wang, A. Gerger, A. Lochtefeld, L. Wang, C. Kerestes, R. Opila, and A. Barnett, Design, fabrication and analysis of germanium: silicon solar cell in a multi-junction concentrator system. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 108, 146-155 (2013).
  7. R. Hao, C. P. Murcia, C. Leitz, A. P. Gerger, A. Lochtefeld, M. Curtin, K. Shreve, R. Opila, and A. Barnett, Investigating Voltage as a Function of the Reduced Junction Area for Thin Silicon Solar Cells That Utilize Epitaxial Lateral Overgrowth. IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 3, 119-124 (2013).


  1. F. Doniat, C. Anderson, C. Dussarrat, J. McAndrew, R. Opila, B. Wright, and D. Yang, Development of low-k precursors for next generation IC manufacturing. Microelectronic Engineering 92, 34-37 (2012).
  2. C. R. Weiland, L. Yang, D. J. Doren, C. A. Menning, D. Skliar, B. G. Willis, J. G. Chen, and R. L. Opila, Binding of styrene on silicon (111)-7 × 7 surfaces as a model molecular electronics system. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 30, 031401 (2012).
  3. K. Hannigan, M. Reid, M. N. Collins, E. Dalton, C. Xu, B. Wright, K. Demirkan, R. L. Opila, W. D. Reents, J.P. Franey, D. A. Fleming, J Punch, Corrosion of RoHS-Compliant Surface Finishes in Corrosive Mixed Flowing Gas Environments. Journal of Electronic Materials 41, 611-623 (2012).
  4. X. Lu, S. Huang, M. B. Diaz, N. Kotulak, R. Hao, R. Opila, and A. Barnett, Wide Band Gap Gallium Phosphide Solar Cells. IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 2, 214-220 (2012).
  5. F. Tian, D. Yang, R. L. Opila, A. V. Teplyakov, Chemical and electrical passivation of Si(111) surfaces. Applied Surface Science 258, 3019-3026 (2012).
  6. N. Karar, R. Opila, T. Beebe, O. Toader, F. Naab, TOF-SIMS Analysis of InGaN/GaN for Expected Doping Profiles. ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology 1, P164-P168 (2012).
  7. R. L. Opila, J. Church, F. Fang, J. L. Mass, Surface Analysis Meets Microscopy: Chemical Changes in Matisse Paintings. Microscopy and Microanalysis 18, 896-897 (2012).


  1. E. Y. Polyakova, K. T. Rim, D. Eom, K. Douglass, R. L. Opila, T. F. Heinz, A. V. Teplyakov, and G. W. Flynn, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy Studies of Graphene Films Prepared by Sonication-Assisted Dispersion. ACS Nano 5, 6102-6108 (2011).
  2. S. P. Bremner, L. Nataraj, S. G. Cloutier, C. Weiland, A. Pancholi, and R. Opila, Use of Sb spray for improved performance of InAs/GaAs quantum dots for novel photovoltaic structures. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 95, 1665-1670 (2011).
  3. F. Fang, R. L. Opila, R. Venkatasubramanian, T. Colpitts, Preparation of clean Bi2Te3 and Sb2Te3 thin films to determine alignment at valence band maxima. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 29, 031403 (2011).
  4. N. Karar, R. Opila, T. Beebe, Wet Etching and Surface Analysis of Chemically Treated InGaN Films. Journal of The Electrochemical Society 158, D342 (2011).
  5. B. Chhabra, C. Weiland, R. L. Opila, C. B. Honsberg, Surface characterization of quinhydrone–methanol and iodine–methanol passivated silicon substrates using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. physica status solidi (a) 208, 86-90 (2011).


  1. K. Douglass, S. Hunt, A. Teplyakov, R. L. Opila, Surface cleaning procedures for thin films of indium gallium nitride grown on sapphire. Applied Surface Science 257, 1469-1472 (2010).
  2. B. Zhang, J. Sun, H. E. Katz, F. Fang, R. L. Opila, Promising Thermoelectric Properties of Commercial PEDOT:PSS Materials and Their Bi2Te3 Powder Composites. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2, 3170-3178 (2010).
  3. Donald R. Baer, Mark H. Engelhard, Alan S. Lea, Ponnusamy Nachimuthu, Timothy C. Droubay, J. Kim, B. Lee, C. Mathews, R. L. Opila, Laxmikant V. Saraf, William F. Stickle, R. M. Wallace, B. S. Wright, Comparison of the sputter rates of oxide films relative to the sputter rate of SiO2. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 28, 1060-1072 (2010).
  4. B. Chhabra, R. Kamada, R. L. Opila, C. B. Honsberg, Effect of small continuous loads on inverter and system efficiency. Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 2, 043105 (2010).
  5. W.G. Wang, C. Ni, G. X. Miao, C. Weiland, L. R. Shah, X. Fan, P. Parson, J. Jordan-Sweet, X. M. Kou, Y. P. Zhang, R. Stearrett, E. R. Nowak, R. Opila, J. S. Moodera, J. Q. Xiao, Understanding tunneling magnetoresistance during thermal annealing in MgO-based junctions with CoFeB electrodes. Physical Review B 81, 144406 (2010).
  6. B. Chhabra, S. Bowden, R. L. Opila, C. B. Honsberg, High effective minority carrier lifetime on silicon substrates using quinhydrone-methanol passivation. Applied Physics Letters 96, 063502 (2010).

The Opila Research Group