American Univesity of Beirut

Dr. Malek Tabbal


Malek Tabbal


Primary Office: Emile Bustani (Physics Bldg), 207

Extension: 4284

Malek Tabbal is a Professor of Physics and the director of two large scholarship programs at AUB: the USAID University Scholarship Program and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education STEM scholarships. He received his BS and MS in Physics from AUB and completed his PhD in Applied Physics at the “Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal” in 1994. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the “Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique” in Québec, before joining AUB as an Assistant Professor in 1997. Since then, Prof. Tabbal has held several key positions at AUB including being Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, chair of the Department of Physics, chair of the University Research Board as well as director of the Leadership, Equity And Diversity (LEAD) Initiative. Prof. Tabbal has won several prizes that include the Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research Excellence Award, the AFSED Distinguished Scholar award, a Fulbright research fellowship at Harvard University as well as AUB’s Teaching Excellence and the Regional and External Programs Service Excellence awards. Dr. Tabbal entertains several collaborations with AUB faculty, the Lebanese Commission of Atomic Energy and French research groups in Nancy, Troyes and Orleans.

The focus of Dr. Tabbal’s work is the understanding of the physical and chemical properties of novel materials that paves the way for applications in a wide variety of high-impact technological fields such as opto and micro-electronics, semiconductors, protective coatings, solar and clean energy, and nanotechnology. Such materials have completely reshaped our way of life and provide some fascinating fundamental physics challenges. Since Dr. Tabbal joined AUB, he has established a vigorous research activity in this field and specialized in the development of new materials using non-equilibrium techniques that use high power excimer ultra-violet lasers and high frequency microwave plasmas. The array of materials that his research group has synthesized over the years ranges from carbon-based materials such as Silicon Carbide, Carbon Nitride and Diamond-Like-Carbon under different forms, amorphous or crystalline, to nitrides and oxides (aluminum nitride, gallium nitride, chromium oxide, manganese oxide, tungsten oxide and zinc oxide). The common thread that links all his research work is that lasers and plasmas bring into the process of materials synthesis highly energetic and excited species that are in conditions far from equilibrium. This leads to the possibility of growing materials that have unique properties that cannot be obtained using conventional thermal equilibrium techniques. With the proper understanding of growth mechanism and materials physico-chemical properties, these latter can be tuned for the application at hand, whether to make carbon based high hardness low friction coatings, energy efficient oxide nanostructured thin films or highly crystalline light emitting nitrides. Dr. Tabbal has also contributed to the unveiling of the nature and behavior of the paramagnetic centers (such as dangling bonds and other defects) in carbon based materials and in the investigation of the highly technologically attractive infra-red absorption in supersaturated laser melted silicon. Prof. Tabbal is also involved in a research collaboration with the Lebanese Commission of Atomic Energy to study pottery excavated from Tyre using ion beam analysis techniques. He is also part of a recently initiated project on the investigation of antique glass artefacts of the AUB Archeological Museum using materials science techniques.

Research Lab:

Pulsed Laser Deposition; Laser interaction with matter; Pulsed Laser melting; Laser Induced Periodic Surface Structures; Plasma processing of materials; Thin films; Nanomaterials; Oxides; Nitrides; Amorphous Carbon Based Materials; Laser applications in materials sciences; Electron Paramagnetic Resonance; Silicon Carbide; Diamond-Like-Carbon.

Potential research projects for undergrads/theses' topics for grads :

  • Pulsed laser deposition of oxide thin films.
  • Investigation of the radiative properties of ZnO nano-structured materials.
  • Analysis of ancient glass artefacts using materials science characterization techniques.
  • Synthesis of nanomaterials for energy applications.

Courses taught

    • Physics 101 (4 credits) Freshman level calculus based Classical Mechanics
    • Physics 226 (3 credits) Senior level Solid State Physics 1998-present
    • Physics 103 (3 credits): Freshman level non-calculus Classical Mechanics
    • Physics 204 (3 credits): Classical Physics for Life Sciences
    • Physics 205 (3 credits): Modern Physics for Life Sciences
    • Physics 231B (3 credits): Senior level Introduction to Plasma Physics
    • Physics 220 (3 credits): Junior level Electromagnetic theory (with Dr. Christidis)
    • Physics 101 L (1 credit): Freshman level Classical Mechanics Laboratory
    • Physics 257L (3 credits): Senior level Advanced Physics Laboratory (with Dr. Christidis)
    • Physics 204L (1 credit): Classical Physics for Life Sciences Laboratory (Supervisor)
    • Physics 205L (1 credit): Modern Physics for Life Sciences Laboratory (Supervisor)
    • Physics 210L (1 credit): Sophomore level introductory Physics Lab. (Supervisor)
    • Physics 211L (1 credit): Sophomore level Electricity and Magnetism Lab. (Supervisor)
    • Physics 226 (3 credits): Solid State Physics

    • Physics 309B (3 credits): Surface Physics and Thin Film Physics
    • Physics 310B (3 credits): Electron Paramagnetic Resonance, (Profs. Isber & Christidis)
    • Physics 392 J (3 credits): Fundamentals of the heteroepitaxial growth, with Prof. Kazan
    • Physics 322 (3 credits): Thin Films Physics

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