Sol-gel deposition is a common fabrication method used to create solids from small molecules. Yet, sol-gel deposition processes have limited commercial applications due to batch-to-batch inconsistencies and the inability to produce uniform thin-film materials.
University of Utah researchers have developed a three step process for sol-gel fabrication that involves deposition from liquid precursor solutions, dehydration in flowing and heated air, and a final heat treatment at 250- 500˚C. A unique shock-cooling procedure suppresses crack formations during the cool-down process and ensures the deposition of high-quality thin-films. This enables large area thin-film deposition. The process can be repeated multiple times with alternating oxide compounds, allowing for multi-layer films. Additionally, the deposition method can be applied to many substrates and shapes without sacrificing sample quality.