MSE Graduate Student Profile: Sebastian Engelmann

"We have a highly interactive program with lots of collaborations with groups on and off campus. Our professors are very nice and friendly, and there are lots of interesting and challenging research projects to work on."

- Sebastian Engelmann

sebastian engelmann
  • Hometown: Kemmern, Franconia, Germany
  • Vordiplom in Physics, University of Wurzburg, Germany
  • Advisor: Professor Gottlieb Oehrlein
  • Started Program: Fall 2004

We chatted with Sebastian to learn more about his experiences in the graduate program in materials science and engineering, and to find out why he chose the University of Maryland for his studies.

Who is your advisor, and in which lab do you work?

My advisor is Professor [Gottlieb] Oehrlein, who happens to have attended the same university in Germany I did. I work in the Laboratory for Plasma Processing of Materials (LPPM) located in IREAP [the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics].

Please tell us about your research.

My research is focused on an improved understanding of photoresist-plasma interactions. Plasmas are used to manufacture semiconductor devices such as microprocessors (CPU units in computers) or memory or storage devices (e.g., for iPods and cellphones). Photoresists are needed to make small device components measuring 100nm and less, resulting in faster and cheaper products. Due to the incredibly fast pace of the semiconductor industry solutions to problems in manufacturing them are usually found, but we don't have a detailed understanding of why sometimes processes work and sometimes they don't. My work helps us understand the issues that arise during manufacturing, and design processes for manufacturing small electronic devices.

What is your highest hope for your research?  What would be the most rewarding outcome or result?

I hope to generate a lot of interest in my work. That includes publishing a lot of papers and getting cited lots of times, getting invited to many conferences, and increasing or extending our funding because of the results and findings of my research.

How did you become interested in materials science and engineering and/or the research you're doing now?

I took semiconductor device physics classes as a student in Wurzburg [Germany]. During these, I became very interested how to fabricate, manipulate and improve these devices.

Why did you choose UMD? What appealed to you about the Clark School?

[The University of Maryland] is a big school with a good reputation. MSE is a small department that gives students a lot of direct contact with the professors. I also like living in the [Washington] D.C. area.

What is the best thing about your experience here so far?

The opportunities and responsibilities I gained through working at UMD and in my lab, the people I work with, the conferences and other networking events I've been to, and the general work atmosphere in MSE.

What would you like to do after completing your studies here?

Working in industry, hopefully continuing in the area of research I'm in right now.

Would you recommend the Clark School/MSE program to other students, and if so, why?

Yes, definitely. We have a highly interactive program with lots of collaborations with groups on and off campus. Our professors are very nice and friendly, and there are lots of interesting and challenging research projects to work on. We have lots of exposure to the international research community through conferences and other events. We've added some very nice facilities, like the [Maryland] NanoCenter. And of course we have the MSGS [Materials Science Graduate Society]!

What advice do you have for undergraduates considering graduate studies in MSE?

Look through the research areas on the MSE website and see if you can identify with a general area of research. Get involved with the graduate society.

What do you like about living in the Washington, D.C. area?  What do you like to do when you're not in the lab? 

The campus is near a Metro [subway] stop, so the D.C. nightlife is only 45 minues away. When I need to get outside, I like camping in the Shennandoah National Park, tubing on the Potomac River at Harper's Ferry, going to the beach in Ocean City, and Kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay. There's a lot to do on campus, too, like making use of the sports facilities, going to the Performing Arts Center, going to the football and basketball games...and finding all of the "Free Pizza" events!

Sebastian received his Ph.D. in December 2008. He is currently working in the Reactive Ion Etching (RIE) group in the department of Advanced Materials and Process Science in the IBM Research Division at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. He develops plasma etching processes to support current and future research projects for exploratory device research beyond 15nm technology node and/or beyond CMOS era.