Accessibility statement

Dr Erik Wagenaars



MSc; PhD (Eindhoven); CPhys MInstP

Summary of expertise

  • Low-temperature plasmas
  • Laser ablation
  • Plasma-based thin film deposition
  • Plasma diagnostic development
  • Technological applications of plasmas

Previous posts

2007-2008: Research Scientist, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology / Philips Extreme UV GmbH, Germany

2008-2011: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of York


  • High Technology Plasma Processes Young Scientist Award
  • Gaseous Electronics Conference Student Award for Excellence

Departmental roles

  • Undergraduate Senior Admissions Tutor



Research group: York Plasma Institute

Our research activities are presented in the Low-Temperature Plasmas research section of the York Plasma Institute.

Research interests:

  • Low-temperature plasmas: atmospheric-pressure plasma jets, low-pressure rf plasmas for etching and deposition
  • Laser ablation
  • Plasma diagnostics
  • Plasma-surface interactions and modifications
  • Technological applications of plasmas, including plasma-based thin film deposition


Full publication list available in the York Research Database.

Research group(s)


  • Ms Alexandra Brisset

PhD students

  • Mr Joseph Branson
  • Mr Eduardo Solis Meza
  • Mr James Lolley

Former PhD students

  • Dr Andrew West - PDRA University of Manchester
  • Dr Sudha Rajendiran - PDRA Research Centre for Gas Innovation (Brazil)
  • Dr David Shaw - PDRA University of York
  • Dr David Meehan


Available PhD research projects

Plasma-Enhanced Pulsed Laser Deposition of metal-oxynitride thin films for photoelectrochemical water splitting to enable a hydrogen economy

Self funded positions available

The hydrogen economy, the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel, is under development as a part of the future low-carbon economy. An important part of this is the efficient and cheap production of hydrogen. Photoelectrochemical water splitting is a promising technology that produces hydrogen from water using sunlight. Key in this technology are the photoelectrodes that use light energy to dissociate water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

Metal oxide thin films like TiO2 and SrTiO3 are the most prominent materials because of their efficient photocatalytic properties. However, the main drawback is that they require UV light which is only a small fraction of solar spectrum. A new class of materials, metal-oxynitrides, are a promising alternative since they are photo-active in the visible range. In particular TaON and TiON show great promise, if the composition and structure of the films can be carefully controlled and tuned, which is still a challenge.

This project aims to produce high-quality metal-oxynitride thin films for photocatalytic processes using a novel thin film deposition technique: Plasma-Enhanced Pulsed Laser Deposition (PE-PLD). PE-PLD combines traditional PLD with an external low-temperature plasma in oxygen and/or nitrogen. This allows greater control of the oxygen and nitrogen content of the deposited thin films, making it an ideal tool for creating metal-oxynitride films.

This project will focus on creating high-quality thin films but also on enhancing the understanding of the underpinning plasma physics and chemistry such that film properties can be created by design rather than empirical trial-and-error. For this you will combine state-of-the-art multiscale numerical modelling with direct measurements of plasma properties performed in the YPI Laboratories.




  • Stage 2: Experimental Laboratory II
  • Stage 4: Light and Matter: Lasers and Atom-Light Interactions 
  • BSc Projects: current topics in low-temperature plasma and laser-plasma science and technology
  • MPhys Projects: current topics in low-temperature plasma and laser-plasma science and technology 


  • MSc Projects: current topics in low-temperature plasma and laser-plasma science and technology

External activities


  • Member of Institute of Physics
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Physics Ion and Plasma Surface Interactions Group Committee (2014-present)
  • Member of the International Scientific Committee of the Europhysics Conference on Atomic and Molecular Physics of Ionized Gases (2016-present)
  • Member of Scientific Committee of the annual Workshop on the Exploration of Low Temperature Plasma Physics (2012-present)
  • Chair of the local organising committee for the 11th Technological Plasma Workshop 2013

Invited talks and conferences

Invited talks

  • 59th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, Milwaukee (USA), 2017.
  • International Conference on Phenomena in Ionized Gases, Lisbon (Portugal), 2017.
  • International Conference on Plasma Surface Engineering, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany), 2016.
  • Functional Thin Films, Coventry (UK), 2016.
  • International Conference on Atomic Processes in Plasmas, Paris (France), 2016.
  • IUVSTA Workshop, Braga (Portugal), 2015.
  • Institute of Physics Plasma Physics Conference, Milton Keynes (UK), 2015.
  • Gordon Research Conference Plasma Processing Science, Smithfield (USA), 2014.
  • Mathematical Sciences Seminar, Loughborough University (UK), 2014.
  • International Symposium on Laser Aided Plasma Diagnostics, Madison (USA), 2013.
  • Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Seminar, Durham University (UK), 2013.


Outreach activities

  • Public lecture "Everyday plasmas", PhysSoc, York, 24 February 2015.
  • School outreach event, "Science Week", Applegarth Primary School, Northallerton, 20 March 2015.

Erik Wagenaars

Department of Physics
University of York
YO10 5DD
Tel: +44 (0)1904 324904
Fax: +44 (0)1904 322214
Room: GN/010, YPI