Smartphones, computers, and solar cells conceal nanoscale thin films produced with the help of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). More basic research in chemistry is needed for higher-performance electronic components and energy-efficient solutions, says Matti Putkonen.
What is your research about?
I study the production of new nano-structured materials and their modification with the help of Atomic Level Deposition (ALD). I combine several fields of chemistry research in my work, such as chemical synthetics and surface analytics. We use them to find new solutions and applications for thin films.
What does your research impact and how?
Without thin films on the nano scale, we wouldn’t be able to manufacture modern computers, smartphones, or solar panels. I carry out basic research in chemistry, which is a long way from the final product that consumers use. However, we need new materials innovations to be able to manufacture higher-performance electronics components and discover more energy-efficient solutions.
What is especially inspiring for you in your field right now?
The ALD method is a Finnish innovation with 50 years of history behind it already. Its significance grows year by year. In future, the applications will require new, often exotic, thin-film materials. It is of utmost importance that the chemistry is viable when manufacturing them.
A more detailed understanding of ALD chemistry has become possible through modern analytical methods. We can now analyse the surface reactions of individual molecular levels more closely, and link basic research, materials science, and industrial applications more efficiently to each other.
The area selectivity of ALD surface reactions is a particular challenge. We want to find out how we can control the manufacturing of materials on only certain surfaces at the nano scale.