Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Wtf are you talking about Willis?!

Not going to lie, when I first got my dissertation title I didn’t know what it meant. Straight up I had no idea what a nitrite thin film was. So the first task of this monster of a project was the simple task of googling what the bloody thing meant! As I did more reading into what thin films were I discovered that they are all around us and are one of the leading areas of research in modern day technology.
By definition a thin film is “(of a process or device) using or involving a very thin solid or liquid film” or in electronic terms “denoting a miniature circuit or device consisting of a thin layer of metal or semiconductor on a ceramic or glass substrate”
In other words thin films of various materials are made by settling a thin layer of material over a reacting surface. Think of it as a coating over a block. A nice little coat. Depending on the material used for the thin film it changes the properties of the layer and what it can be used for.
The process by which the layer is made is a type of surface engineering and it called deposition. I will go into more what this means later on (I bet you’re very excited)
The applications of thin films is massive! They can be used in so many different ways and they are used all around us, for example a familiar application of thin films is in mirrors. These are typically made by a thin metal coating on the back of a sheet of glass to form a reflective surface, this process is called silvering. A very-thin-film coating (less than about 50 nanometers thick) is used to produce two-way mirrors.

The main reason that the demand of thin films has increased is down to their uses in optics and their use in semiconductors. Due to the fact that (obvious by the name) they are such thin coatings they are perfect to be used to coat wires which helps in nanotechnology as the goal in future electronics is to make everything smaller and more efficient. Other examples of thin film application include being used in space science, defence, aviation and several other industries!
So there you go, the first insight into what delights are coming your way! The exciting, exhilarating world of thin films. Such a small part of the big bad world of material science and yet something that is applied all around you in everyday life from looking in your bathroom mirror to coating the wires in your laptop and even being used in space. What useful little things thin films are ay?

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