Programmable deposition of nanoscale films

Physical Sciences : Mechanical

Available for non-exclusive licensing


  • S.V. Sreenivasan, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • Shrawan Singhal, Ph.D. , NASCENT

Background/unmet need

Fabrication of most micro- and nano-scale devices, including semiconductors, photonic, and optoelectronic devices, MEMS/NEMS, and electronic displays (such as LCDs), requires the deposition of many thin film layers. Several deposition options exist in the industry today. All the processes deposit thin films in a manner where the amount of material deposited per unit area is substantially the same.

The ability to tailor materials to form intentionally non-uniform film thicknesses is not typically possible for these processes. Also, processes such as spin-coating involve significant material waste, while vacuum processes can be expensive due to the need to pump down chambers where processing is performed.

Invention Description

Researchers at UT Austin have designed an invention that presents a versatile inkjet-based process for programmable deposition of thin films with nanometer-scale accuracy. This method is hereby referred to as Programmable Inkjetting of Thin-films, or PAINT.

PAINT offers unique and enabling properties due to its ability to obtain programmable film thickness profiles, and it can perform at high process speeds and with near-zero material wastage. This combination of enabling performance and low cost has the potential for significant advantages over typical film deposition methods.


  • User can modify the surface using simple software.
  • Produces gradient surfaces
  • Can be used for wafer polishing


  • Abilities to obtain programmable film thickness profiles
  • Can perform such a process at high process speeds
  • Near-zero material wastage
  • Substantially agnostic towards the choice of substrate type, thickness, or material, and is capable of depositing films over large areas
  • Can substantially decouple the influence of systematic parasitics, such as surface topography, inkjet drop volume variation, etc., and prevent them from corrupting the final film
  • thickness
  • Generates a freeform surface, the profile of which is defined by the user and which can be modified adaptively in software, without any changes in tooling or hardware

Market potential/applications

Micro and nano fabrication companies
Companies producing electronic displays
Semiconductor companies

IP Status

  • 4 foreign patents application filed
  • 3 foreign patents issued
  • 1 U.S. patent issued: 9,415,418
  • 1 U.S. patent issued: 9,718,096