Saturday 5 December 2015

ALD in Wikipedia - status and surprises

Updating Wikipedia regarding the history of ALD is one of the goals that we have set in the Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA). Today, I had a quick look at the status of ALD-related information in Wikipedia --- and got surprised.

Here are the main pages related to ALD - these are quite as expected.
I did not find any pages related to Aleskovskii and Koltsov, who independently developed ALD in USSR under the name Molecular Layering, and also no dedicated page of Molecular Layering. 

Many surprises came, when I looked into the contents of the three pages.

The page of atomic layer deposition is currently (as of 5.12.2015) available in English, German, Estonian, French, Norwegian, Russian, Finnish, Ukrainian, and Chinese. Significant language coverage, reflecting the international nature of ALD research and industry. Quick comparison of the pages indicates that, content-wise, the descriptions in different languages differ very significantly. Obviously, there has been little, if any coordination between the pages of different languages. This was perhaps a bit of a surprise, but the smallest of the surprises that came along.  

Continuing on the English language page of atomic layer deposition, before moving to other pages. This page still as of 5.12.2015 contains the statement that was one of the initiators of the Virtual Project on the History of ALD, namely: 
  • "The principle of ALD was first published under the name “Molecular Layering” (ML) in the early 1960s by Prof. S.I. Kol’tsov from the Leningrad (Lensovet) Technological Institute (LTI). These ALD experiments were conducted under the scientific supervision of a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences Prof. V.B. Aleskovskii. The concept of the ALD process was first proposed by Prof. V.B. Aleskovskii in his Ph.D. thesis published in 1952.[1][2][3] "
References 1, 2, and 3 are the following, thus no original sources from 1952 or early 1960s are cited:
  1. [1] Puurunen, Riikka. Surface chemistry of atomic layer deposition: A case study for the trimethylaluminum/water process, Journal of Applied Physics 97 , 121301 (2005)
  2. Jump up[2] V. B. Aleskovskii, Zh. Prikl. Khim. 47, 2145 (1974); [J. Appl. Chem. USSR. 47, 2207, (1974)].
  3. Jump up[3] A.A. Malygin, J. Ind. Eng. Chem. Vol.12, No. 1, (2006) 1-11.
(Regarding my own review, reference #1, I did not make any of the cited statements there, so it is slightly odd to use it as a reference; my earliest knowledge of an ML-ALD paper was from 1965.) This text triggered the question: " What are the "Molecular layering" papers byKoltsov from "early 1960's"? ", which I asked in LinkedIn in the group ALD - Atomic Layer Deposition. Lively discussion was initiated, forming the first steps towards the creation of VPHA. We still do not have a definite answer to the question --- by the end of VPHA, I am confident that we will have. 

Then moving to the page of atomic layer epitaxy. This page is currently available in English only. It is short, but still contains several errors. The errors start right in the first paragraph, where there are two (or maybe even three, depending on the definitions). This paragraph reads currently as follows: 
The name of the inventor is correct, but the year is incorrect, and so is the affiliation. The correct year was 1974, and the affiliation was Instrumentarium Oy. (The patent was filed in 1974, and become public in 1977.) Suntola had for a long time no more been at HUT - before starting at Instrumentarium, he worked at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. These correct details have been reported in the recent "ALE essay" (in the list of ALD reviews), which should be considered as the most reliable source of information regarding the invention and other early developments of ALE, as it has been written in collaboration with the inventor Suntola himself and all details have been checked by him. Improvements needed in this Wikipedia page thus.  

I also had a look at the page of Tuomo Suntola, the Finnish inventor of ALD ... and this brought along the largest surprise. At the time of writing this description, the page was available in Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian. The contents in different languages seem to be roughly the same. Very oddly, the pages do not seem to mention Atomic Layer Deposition directly at all. Saying again: ALD - is - not - mentioned - at - all. Many readers, but not all, will know that ALD is indirectly present behind "elektroluminesenssinäytöt, aurinkokennot, pintakemia", and the reference list does contain entries which mention Atomic Layer Epitaxy. Still, I find this unbelievable that ALD is not mentioned directly at all. ALD is reactor-sales-wise a market of several 100's of millions of dollars yearly, and there are tens of companies active in reactor sales alone. Of course, ALD should be mentioned, along the other achievements by Suntola. Currently, the best website of Suntola's ALD-related work is in BALD Engineering recently commented upon it, and ALD History Blog continued. Also, I point to the "ALE essay" again as the most reliable description of the early days of ALE-ALD in Finland.   

It would be good if this message would reach the people who update Wikipedia (I have never been active there myself): there is quite some work to do. The good thing is that VPHA, slowly but steadily, creates reliable information for Wikipedia to refer to. 

Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA) - in atmosphere of Openness, Respect, and Trust


  1. There is a ton to do in the wikipedia page of ALD. I corrected some of the most egregious mistakes, but it is really in need of a cleanup. I stopped working on it because I am writing a section on ALD for a book and I was unconsciously starting to self-plagiarize. My suggestion for anyone is that, if you see something, even it is small, just go for it and correct it.

  2. Thank you, Angel, for the comment.

    One obvious quick fix to make to the Atomic Layer Epitaxy page would be to change the quoted text to: "This technique was invented in 1974, then patented the same year (patent published in 1977), by Dr. Tuomo Suntola, at the Instrumentarium company, Finland." Reference: Puurunen, R. L., A short history of atomic layer deposition: Tuomo Suntola's Atomic Layer Epitaxy, Chem. Vap. Deposition 20 (2014) 332-344.

    Would for example you Angel be able to make this change? For me, the barrier for making changes in Wikipedia is high, as I have never done it and I don't know how it works. I have not planned to make changes to Wikipedia within VPHA either, I leave this for others to do (there is enough in the VPHA coordination and publications to keep me buzy). Jonas has been making small changes so far, it will be good to have others involved, too.