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Finnish researchers unravelling the mechanical properties of atomically thin films


New industrial applications are foreseen for MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) devices, a 7-billion-dollar, rapidly growing market. The mechanical properties of thin films play a crucial role. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Aalto University and University of Jyväskylä have joined together in a research project to unravel the mechanical properties of ALD thin films for MEMS devices and other wafer-based applications.

Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a chemical vapour deposition technique to grow high-quality thin films with perfect 3-D coating capability down to sub-nanometer thicknesses. ALD is already used in several industrial applications such as display manufacturing and microelectronics.

In the project abbreviated MECHALD, the complementary expertise of seven different research groups is combined to overcome the multidisciplinary challenges set by the extremely thin ALD layers.

The MECHALD project is coordinated by VTT and supported by Tekes - the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and the industrial partners ASM Microchemistry Oy, Beneq Oy, Okmetic Oyj, Oxford Instruments Analytical Oy, Picosun Oy, and VTI Technologies Oy. The project is linked through VTT to the Center of Excellence in Atomic Layer Deposition of the Academy of Finland. The MECHALD project runs until 2014 and has a total budget of 2.2 million euros.

Aalto University, Finland is a new multidisciplinary science and art community in the fields of science, economics, and art and design. The University is founded on Finnish strengths, and its goal is to develop as a unique entity to become one of the world's top universities. Aalto University's cornerstones are its strengths in education and research. At the new University, there are 20,000 basic degree and graduate students as well as a staff of 4,700 of which 340 are professors.

The University of Jyväskylä is a nationally and internationally significant research university that focuses on human and natural sciences.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is a leading multitechnological applied research organization in Northern Europe. VTT creates new technology and science-based innovations in co-operation with domestic and foreign partners. VTT’s turnover is EUR 290 million and itspersonnel totals 3,100.