What is Thin Film Technology and How Important is it Today?
Technology has come a long way in recent decades, and it’s thanks to new discoveries that some of these leaps in our abilities have been able to happen.
One of the most important technologies that has helped advance the worlds of medicine, electronics, and optics, is thin film technology.
Not only has thin film technology been able to improve important sensor, medical and electronic equipment, but it has also helped create lightweight, cheaper and flexible products that benefit everyone.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of thin film technology and provide an in-depth introduction to what thin films are.
What are Thin Films?
Thin films are layers of material that can be deposited on objects like silicon wafers, electronic parts, or optical lenses. These types of films are special because of their thinness, with most layer sizes ranging between fractions of a nanometer (monolayer) to several micrometers.
There are a range of different types of thin films that can be used in different applications and industries. Because of their wide range of possibilities, thin films have become increasingly popular in modern day and have pushed forward various technological breakthroughs.
Some of the most common types of thin films include AR/HR (antireflective or high-reflectivity) coatings, TCO (transparent conductive oxide) coatings, DLC (diamond-like carbon) thin films, and Biocompatible hard coatings.
Thin films can be used on electronic displays, LDC screens, or implanted devices to make them more efficient and durable – they can even be used to increase the lifespan of medical devices and sensors, among other things.
Thin films are so useful as they are able to reflect and transmit light, as well as be transparent and conductive, making them suitable for a range of applications.
How Are Thin Films Made?
Thin films are made using a process called deposition. To create the film, there are two main methods that are used: chemical vapour deposition and physical vapour deposition.
Physical vapour deposition is a quite common process of manufactuinf thin films. Among physical processes, we can name magnetron sputtering, pulsed laser deposition, electron beam evaporation, thermal deposition and more.
In essence, the process of deposition takes place in a vacuum chamber. Using high temperatures, the source material is heated until it’s vaporised in the chamber. Then, it is layered on a target material atom by atom to form a thin-film layer.
This process can be used to create thin films of metals and non-metals, and is one of the most straightforward forms of physical vapour deposition, which is why it’s amongst the most popular processes.
The Importance of Thin-Films in the Modern Day
The development of thin film technology has changed the capabilities of manufacturing and design in a range of different devices. From solar panels, to wearable tech, and from computer storage hardware to electronic components, many different industries have benefited from the development of thin films.
Although the benefits and advantages of thin film technology are already being realised, many experts believe that thin film technology is still in its growing phase. It is expected to become even more important in the years to come as research in the field advances.
Many companies have started to invest heavily in this field, in the hopes of developing more efficient, thinner and more durable thin films to suit a range of applications in the future.
For example, the use of thin film technology is particularly common in the semiconductor industry. Thanks to thin films, laptop and mobile manufacturers have been able to design thinner, smaller and more compact devices that still maximise performance for customers.
Similarly, in the optical industry, thin films have been used in the manufacture of windows and mirrors. The technology allows manufacturers to reduce distortion, improve performance, decrease weight and maximise performance. It’s also allowed the products to become more sustainable as the thin film can decrease energy loss, making green buildings more environmentally friendly.
Thin film has already demonstrated its ability to improve the life of consumers. Combined with its enhanced usability and performance, the technology also offers great business advantages as it helps cut down on cost, weight and size.
Thin films are an important technology with amazing physical properties that are now used across a range of industries.
As we’ve discussed, thin films are able to reflect light, transmit light, be transparent, and be conductive. Because of their varying properties, these films are now commonly used in products like solar energy cells, touch screen devices, and LED displays.
Thin-film technology has already revolutionised the way we live and do business, and this cutting-edge technology will only become more important in the future as businesses and consumers discover innovative ways to enjoy its many benefits.
If you want to be on the forefront of this exciting new technology, make sure you read the other posts on our blog so you can stay up-to-date on all the latest advances.