Thin film nanomaterials are an active research area in energy technologies, photovoltaic materials, semiconductor devices, photonics, acoustics and catalysis, to name a few. Since the early 1990s there has been a rapid increase in synthesis methods of nanostructured thin films. Thin film synthesis can be combined with lithographic methods, often to enhance ordering in nanostructures.
Porous silica films are often used in integrated circuits in which the degree of porosity is used to control the dielectric properities of capacitors. These nanoporous materials can be synthesized using amphiphilic block copolymers in a sol gel process. Using structural directing agents, highly ordered nanoporous arrays can be created.
Magnetic memory devices:
By a number of different processing routes, metal and metal oxide nanoparticle arrays are synthesized for electronic and magnetic applications.
Optoelectronics and LEDS:
Advanced molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and chemical vapour deposition (CVD) methods are used to produce semiconducting quantum dots and nanowires for optoelectronic applications.
Thin films and monolayers of precious metal nanoparticles can be synthesized using solution phase methods and are used in catalysis.
Batteries and gas storage systems:
Nano-porosity is exploited for the storage of gases.
Whilst reflectometry can provide detailed depth information on the quality of interfaces, GISAXS is used to reveal lateral dimensions including interfacial steps and irregularities.