Thin Films & Nanotech Research

Exploring the frontiers of material science; Providing the building blocks for materials and devices
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Thin films are solid layers of material that are typically less than a few micrometres thick. They can be deposited on a variety of substrates, including metals, semiconductors, glass, and polymers, and are used in a wide range of applications, including electronics, optics, coatings, and sensors.

Nanotechnology is the science and engineering of manipulating matter at the nanoscale, which is the scale of atoms and molecules. Nanotechnology has a wide range of potential applications in fields such as medicine, electronics, energy, and materials science.

Thin films and nanotechnology are closely related fields. Thin films can be used to create nanostructures, and nanotechnology can be used to develop new methods for depositing thin films. For example, thin film deposition techniques such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) are often used to create nanostructured materials. Additionally, nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes and graphene can be used to create thin films with unique properties.

Research in thin films and nanotechnology is widespread and growing as scientists and engineers continue to develop new materials and applications. The UK and European thin films and nanotechnology research community is highly collaborative and there is a strong history of innovation in this area. It is well-funded and there is a strong commitment to commercialising new technologies. Current projects have far-reaching possibilities as developments continue. 

  • Thin film solar cells could make solar energy more accessible for more remote and less economically developed areas of the world
  • Thin film batteries could enable new types of electric vehicles and portable electronics
  • Thin film sensors could also improve medical treatment and the safety and efficiency of a wide range of industrial processes

PI-KEM is committed to enabling innovation and is constantly adding to its thin film and nanotechnology products. Our Business Development Team have the expertise and resources available to them to ensure our research partners have the materials and equipment they need to succeed.

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  • Research Focus

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    • Development of new materials and deposition techniques: Giving improved properties, such as flexibility, conductivity, and durability and new deposition techniques that are more efficient and scalable. Perovskite thin films are a promising new material for solar cells. Perovskite solar cells have already achieved efficiencies of over 25%, which is comparable to traditional silicon solar cells. University of Cambridge researchers are developing new thin film materials for use in solar cells that utilise perovskites which have the potential to replace silicon.

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    • Integration of thin films and nanomaterials into devices: Including solar cells, batteries, sensors, and electronics, improving the performance, accuracy, and efficiency of these devices. Fabricating thin film transistors for flexible and wearable electronics. IMEC in Belgium worked with a leading industry partner to focus on the reliability of biosensors and are working on ways to reduce their power requirements.

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    • Applications in healthcare: Using nanotechnology to create new medical devices, such as implants and drug delivery systems.  and materials for medical applications including imaging, wound healing, and drug administration. The Nanomedicine Formulation and Delivery Group at Liverpool John Moores University are developing pulmonary drug delivery for use with inhalers to improve their effectiveness.

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    • Energy efficiency and storage: New energy technologies, such as more efficient solar cells and batteries. Developing new materials for thin film batteries that are more energy-dense and longer-lasting. The AMOLF research program in Sustainable Energy Materials, based in the Netherlands, brings researchers from different disciplines together to push the limits of conversion efficiency between different types of energy by controlling materials at the nanoscale.

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    • Characterisation: Researchers are developing new tools and techniques to characterise the properties of thin films at the nanoscale. This is essential for understanding the behaviour of thin film devices and developing new materials and processes.
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