The first International Workshop on the Science and Technology of Thin Films for the 21st Century, held this past summer at Northwestern University, assembled the world's leading experts to assess the trends and opportunities in one of the most fruitful areas of materials research. A complex field, thin film science touches virtually all areas of technology and has had a major economic impact as well. Silicon integrated circuits, for example, form the basis of the computing and telecommunications industries, both noted economic cornerstones.
The diverse, highly qualified group of 150 invited speakers and registered participants came to several conclusions:
∎ The scientific, technological, and commercial opportunities in this field have never been more exciting. The panel chairs have articulated their findings, and they are presented here in separate reports.
∎ Although the thin film field is huge, complex, and interdisciplinary, there are common scientific linkages or driving forces in how the field has developed and is practiced. The discovery of new deposition and fabrication techniques has historically led to new thin film materials. Analysis of the basis molecules of these materials has led to the discovery of new physical and chemical phenomena. And the practitioners of thin film science have traditionally had a lively, realistic interest in applying their work.
∎ The funding situation and lack of a coherent national policy in the United States were causes for concern among U.S. workshop participants.