since 2002

Thin film and their applications (Episode 2)

In this episode, we will dive in and see what we see. Check the Episode 1 out if you have missed it.

1/ Optical films

First we have optical coatings where multiple layer stacks of thin films are either evaporated or sputtered onto a lens, mirror or prism. Optical films are used in order to control how much light is refected, refracted or what wavelength of light is allowed to be transmitted through the lens. There are large numbers of products you may be familiar with that have optical films. For example, the anti-scratch, anti-reflective, UV protection, anti-fog etc

Used to make: sunglasses, eyeglasses, optical filters, binoculars, cameras, dichroic prisms, microscopes, telescopes, interferometer, rifle scopes.

2/ Metalized films

Another thin film would be metalized films where there’s a thin sheet of plastic that’s typically coated in a thin layer of metal for decorative use or to provide some kind of function. Common metal coatings that are used in metalized films are going to be made of aluminum, chromium, nickel or gold but there are other materials that are used

For example:

  • Mylar can be aluminized for reduced gas-permeable. Used to make: balloons, food packaging
  • Kapton can be metalized to increased its thermal radiation resistance. Used to make: Solar blankets, spacesuits
  • Chrome can be used as a reflective coating on various surfaces. Used to make: Automotive headlights/trim

3/ Metallurgical films

Metallurgical films are any film that improves some base metal properties

  • Titanium nitride is often deposited by sputtering or evaporation in an ionized reactive gas
  • Titanium nitride and chromium nitride make hard and wear resistant films that can extend the lifetime of a component by a factor of five or more.

Used to make: Medical implants, drill bits, milling cutters, punches, engine valves, jewelry, ball bearings and gears

4/ Electroluminescent film

Electroluminescent film is a film that converts eletricity into visible light.

The most common example of these would be light emitting diodes called LEDs or organic light emitting diodes called OLEDs. The OLEDs layer is often situated between two eletrodes, one is cathode the other is an anode and for TVs, laptops, smartphones and tablets and even LED lighting.

5/ Coatings for energy

There are two key thin films that are used for energy either or energy production or energy storage

  • Thin films in perovskite solar panels to produce electricty
  • They can be co-sputtered or co-evaporated among other techniques
  • Thin films allow for energy dense battery production

6/ Semiconductor Films

Last but not least, we have Semiconductor Films

  • Thin film transistors from sputtered hafnium oxide or cadmium selenide. Used to make: active matrix pixel addressing of AMOLED displays
  • Magnetic sensors from evaporated indium antimonide, indium aresnide and gallium arsenide. Used to make currency detection in products like vending machines
  • Micro electromechanical systems accelerometers from sputtered or evaporated silicon oxide or silicon nitride. Used to make: smartphones and drones

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