Breakthrough In Modeling Thin-Film Growth
Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer researchers have announced a
breakthrough in simulating the growth and aging of thin-films.
The advance will lead to lower cost and more rapid development
of microelectronics, protective coatings, and
Researchers in the Focus Center-New York at Rensselaer (FC-NY,
RPI)have used computer modeling to predict how nanoscale
“islands” of copper or aluminum grow and spread out to form a
thin film. This virtual fabrication and testing could
significantly decrease the cost of product development and
fabrication, said Tim Cale, director of the center.
“Computer modeling of polycrystalline thin films will allow us
to minimize and totally avoid costly prototypes for some
applications,” Cale said.
Other methods to model thin-film growth have limitations, but
according to Cale, this new method opens the door to many
opportunities that were previously unavailable.
This is a major advance, but more work needs to be done.
“Now we need to work toward predicting the properties of the
resulting films,” said Cale. “The properties determine the
film’s, and ultimately the product’s, performance. We need good
physics and materials science models to plug into our basic
approach. That will give us the most effective modeling
The new approach helps to bridge the gap between modelers and
engineers. An engineer can optimize a process to produce the
best material for a specific application, said Max Bloomfield,
a graduate student working on the project.
Cale said that he and his colleagues in the Focus Center,
along with members of the Scientific Computation Research
Center at Rensselaer, Argonne National Laboratory, and
organizations around the world, will work together to realize
the broad potential of this breakthrough. Within the next few
years, they hope to transfer the technology to industry.
Contact: Bruce Adams
Phone: (518) 276-6531