A thin film is a layer of material ranging from fractions of a nanometer (monolayer) to several micrometers in thickness. Electronic semiconductor devices and optical coatings are the main applications benefiting from thin film construction.
A familiar application of thin films is the household mirror, which typically has a thin metal coating on the back of a sheet of glass to form a reflective interface. The process of silvering was once commonly used to produce mirrors. A very thin film coating (less than a nanometer thick) is used to produce two-way mirrors.
The performance of optical coatings (e.g. antireflective, or AR, coatings) are typically enhanced when the thin film coating consists of multiple layers having varying thicknesses and refractive indices. Similarly, a periodic structure of alternating thin films of different materials may collectively form a so-called superlattice which exploits the phenomenon of quantum confinement by restricting electronic phenomena to two-dimensions.
Work is being done with ferromagnetic and ferroelectric thin films for use as computer memory. It is also being applied to pharmaceuticals, via thin film drug delivery. Thin-films are used to produce thin-film batteries. Thin film application also be adopted on dye-sensitized solar cell.
Ceramic thin films are in wide use. The relatively high hardness and inertness of ceramic materials make this type of thin coating of interest for protection of substrate materials against corrosion, oxidation and wear. In particular, the use of such coatings on cutting tools can extend the life of these items by several orders of magnitude.
Research is being done on a new class of thin film inorganic oxide materials, called amorphous heavy-metal cation multicomponent oxides, which could be used to make transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable, and environmentally benign.
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... contributions to modeling and physical understanding of plasmas, especially those used in thin film etching, deposition and surface modification." 2009 Robert Hamers "For wide ranging studies of chemistry ... "For his seminal contributions to the atomic-level understanding of thin-film growth, interfacial interactions, and etching." 1998 David E ... optical methods and effects for research on thin films, surfaces and interfaces which have significantly advanced the understanding of electronic ...
... The performance and potential of thin-film materials are high, reaching cell efficiencies of 12–20% prototype module efficiencies of 7–13% and production modules in the ... and could reach even lower levels—well under $50/m2, the DOE/NREL goal for thin films—when fully optimized ... At these levels, thin-film modules will cost less than fifty cents per watt to manufacture, opening new markets such as cost-effective distributed power and utility production to thin-film ...
... Thin-film printing technology is being used to apply solid-state lithium polymers to a variety of substrates to create unique batteries for specialized ... Thin-film batteries can be deposited directly onto chips or chip packages in any shape or size ... batteries can be made by printing onto plastic, thin metal foil, or paper ...
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