Thin films are thin material layers ranging from fractions of a nanometre to several micrometres in thickness. Electronic semiconductor devices and optical coatings are the main applications benefiting from thin film construction.
Work is being done with ferromagnetic thin films for use as computer memory. It is also being applied to pharmaceuticals, via thin film drug delivery. Thin-films are used to produce thin-film batteries.
Ceramic thin films are in wide use. The relatively high hardness and inertness of ceramic materials make this type of thin coating of interest for protection of substrate materials against corrosion, oxidation and wear. In particular, the use of such coatings on cutting tools can extend the life of these items by several orders of magnitude.
Research is being done on a new class of thin film inorganic oxide materials, called amorphous heavy-metal cation multicomponent oxide, which could be used to make transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable, and environmentally benign.