Since its discovery in early times, thin films rapidly found industrial applications such as in decorative and optics purposes. With the evolution of thin film technology, supported by the development of vacuum technology and electric power facilities, the range of applications has increased at a level that nowadays almost every industrial sector make use of them to provide specific physical and chemical properties to the surface of bulk materials. The possibility to tailor the film properties through the variation of the microstructure via the deposition parameters adopted in a specific deposition technique has permitted their entrance from the simplest like protective coatings against wear and corrosion to the most technological advanced applications such as microelectronics and biomedicine, recently. In spite of such impressive progress, the connection among all steps of the thin film production, namely deposition parameters-morphology and properties, is not fully accurate. Among other reasons, the lack of characterization techniques suitable for probing films with thickness less than a single atomic layer, along with a lack of understanding of the physics have impeded the elaboration of sophisticated models for a precise prediction of film properties. Furthermore, there remain some difficulties related to the large scale production and a relative high cost for the deposition of advanced structures, i.e. quantum wells and wires. Once these barriers are overcome, thin film technology will become more competitive for advanced technological applications.
Part of the book: Thin Films