Atomic Layer Deposition

Loading a catalyst sample into one of the laboratory's atomic layer deposition systems.

Loading a catalyst sample into one of the laboratory's atomic layer deposition systems.

Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a thin-film growth technique that offers the unique capability to coat complex, three-dimensional objects with precise, conformal layers. In addition, ALD allows atomic-level control over the thickness and composition of the deposit.

ALD uses alternating, saturating reactions between gaseous precursor molecules and a substrate to deposit films in a layer-by-layer fashion. By repeating this reaction sequence in an ABAB… fashion, films of virtually any thickness—from atomic monolayers to micrometer dimensions—can be deposited with atomic layer precision. This alternating reaction strategy eliminates the line-of-sight or constant-exposure requirements that limit conventional methods such as physical- or chemical-vapor deposition.

The ALD research program at Argonne National Laboratory is a joint initiative of the Energy Systems and Materials Science and Energy Systems Divisions that combines basic and applied sciences. This program is expanding ALD into new fields and deposition platforms and developing ALD thin film technologies that address a wide variety of our nation’s energy challenges. Specific research areas include:

  • Solar cells
  • Novel nanostructured catalysts
  • Large Area Photodetectors
  • Energy Storage
  • Nanoporous Separations Membranes
  • Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells
  • Solid State Lighting
  • Aerogels
  • Hydrogen Economy
  • Hermetic Coatings
  • Chemical Sensors

Learn more about Argonne in the marketplace: Microchannel plates with ALD.