This article reviews and assesses recent progress in atomic layer deposition (ALD) and highlights how the field of ALD is expanding into new applications and inspiring new vapor-based chemical reaction methods. ALD is a unique chemical process that yields ultra-thin film coatings with exceptional conformality on highly non-uniform and non-planar surfaces, often with subnanometer scale control of the coating thickness. While industry uses ALD for high-κ dielectrics in the manufacturing of electronic devices, there is growing interest in low-temperature ALD and ALD-inspired processes for newer and more wide-ranging applications, including integration with biological and synthetic polymer structures. Moreover, the conformality and nanoscale control of ALD film thickness makes ALD ideal for encapsulation and nano-architectural engineering. Articles in this issue of MRS Bulletin present details of several growing interest areas, including the extension of ALD to new regions of the periodic table, and molecular layer deposition and vapor infiltration for synthesis of organic-based thin films. Articles also discuss ALD for nanostructure engineering and ALD for energy applications. A final article shows how the challenge of scaling ALD for high rate nanomanufacturing will push advances in plasma, roll-to-roll, and atmospheric pressure ALD.