One important nanotechnology is Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). In ALD, one can build up molecular layers on surfaces at the angstrom and nanoscale levels. The technology traces back to the 1960′s and 1970′s. ALD has a variety of application areas including defense and cleantech (e.g., solar cells, batteries) as well as the semiconductor industry and medical devices.
This week, new patent litigation was announced involving ALD. Its interesting and important that the patent at issue, US Patent No. 6,812,157, is not categorized as a 977 nanotechnology patent (the plaintiff is Atomic Precision Systems and the defendants include Jusung Engineering, Micron Technology, Intel, and IBM. More and more ALD patents and patent filings are emerging. For example, the nanotechnology 977 patent publication database shows a rapidly growing role for ALD. As of today, 106 of the 977 patent publications recite ALD or atomic layer deposition in the abstract or claim. Of these, most of them (76) were published in 2010-today, and 2011 showed more (40) compared to 2010 (30).
Nanotechnology does not get the buzz it used to. ALD, however, illustrates how quietly nanotechnology pushes the technology boundaries, decade after decade, and contributes commercially in a variety of diverse applications. ALD is now positioned as a leading nanomanufacturing method. At a recent nanotechnology conference, the ALD commercialization talk from Cambridge NanoTech was a highlight. Another company, ALD NanoSolutions, recently announced progress with defense applications.