Cost-effective systems for atomic layer deposition

Michael Lubitz, Phillip A. Medina, Aleks Antic, Joseph T. Rosin, Bradley D. Fahlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Herein, we describe the design and testing of two different home-built atomic layer deposition (ALD) systems for the growth of thin films with sub-monolayer control over film thickness. The first reactor is a horizontally aligned hot-walled reactor with a vacuum purging system. The second reactor is a vertically aligned cold-walled reactor with a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and a vacuum purging system. This latter reactor was also built to be capable of the addition of liquid- or solution-phase precursors, including the addition of a solution-based precursor containing nanoparticles. Each system cost less than $10,000, and they were used to deposit aluminum oxide thin films using trimethylaluminum and water/isopropyl alcohol as coreactants. Whereas the horizontal hot-walled system was able to deposit alumina thin films at a growth rate of 1.2-1.4 Å/cycle, the more sophisticated vertically aligned reactor deposited films at 0.95-1.1 Å/cycle, which is comparable to commercial systems costing 100,000 or more. Most importantly, both systems were fabricated entirely by M.S. and undergraduate students at Central Michigan University.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1027
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 8 2014


  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Graduate Education/Research
  • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
  • Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary
  • Laboratory Equipment/Apparatus
  • Laboratory Instruction
  • Materials Science
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate


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