Monday 31 December 2018

Molecular Layering in the 2018 Millennium Prize Nomination letter

In 2018, Dr. Tuomo Suntola received the Millennium Technology Prize (MTP) for his groundbreaking work on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). In addition to being a personal recognition to Suntola, the MTP 2018 was a great recognition to ALD as an enabler of many technologies and of the continuation of Moore’s law. The whole field has benefited.

In the Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA), materials (publications, Wikipedia updates) have been created which supported the nomination. In summer 2017, it was a natural continuation of VPHA to write the MTP nomination letter for me in the name of my university.

ALD has been invented independently twice - under the name Atomic Layer Epitaxy by Tuomo Suntola in 1974, and under the name Molecular Layering by Valentin Aleskovskii and Stanislav Koltsov already in the 1960s (see, e.g., Wikipedia).

When writing the MTP nomination letter, in addition to describing Suntola’s groundbreaking work and the impact of ALD from all angles, I also - of course - I wanted to acknowledge the pioneering work of Aleskovskii and Koltsov, who both have already passed away.

Friday 28 December 2018

People Behind the Science podcast with Dr. Tuomo Suntola

"Let's first think what to do, and then do it" (Suntola)

The podcast People Behind the Science by Dr. Marie McNeely,, has made a podcast interview with Dr. Tuomo Suntola as guest. It is Episode 461, Here, Suntola is discussing atomic layer deposition (ALD), history of science, how he built transistor radio as 12-13 year old, his book "The Short History of Science", his historical role models, working in industry vs academia, his fundamental works, Millennium Technology Prize, ... 

Definitely recommended listening. Accompanying reading related to ALD details could be my "Suntola essay",   

The episode was published already from August 6, 2018; however, it caught my attention only Dec 27, 2018. Thanks for Prof. Sean Barry for pointing this episode out in Twitter

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

Thursday 6 December 2018

Story of the image: Reconstruction of the first Atomic Layer Epitaxy experiment

On December 6th, 2018, I have made a small donation to the world. I uploaded the image, which shows a reconstruction of the first Atomic Layer Epitaxy experiment (nowadays Atomic Layer Deposition) in Wikimedia Commons. (I also created a new gallery, Tuomo Suntola.)

The image is shared in Wikimedia Commons with the Creative Commons Attribute-Share Alike license (CC BY SA 4.0). This means that anyone in the world is free to use the image, also in commercial works, without the need to ask for further permission. The licence requires that one acknowledges the source (BY) and if edits are made, they are shared with a similar licence (SA). Ok ways in my view to acknowledge the source are: 

  1. Noting the authors & licence: Riikka Puurunen & Tuomo Suntola 2014 (CC BY-SA 4.0) 
  2. linking to the Wikimedia page

This image is quite special in my view and it was quite an effort to make it, so I am happy it is now shared for anyone's further use. (If someone is interested, I can tell another time, how it was made.) Had the image been used in the way it was first intended, it would not have been possible to share it in Wikimedia Commons. Luckily, things don't always go as planned. 

Here, I want to tell the story of this Suntola image, as an example to perhaps learn from.

Tuomo Suntola's main review on Atomic Layer Deposition (Epitaxy) now Open Access

Open Access for Dr. Tuomo Suntola's main review on atomic layer deposition has been kindly given by the Elsevier publisher (per request, for a year’s time?). As the review is from 1989, it is still entitled ”atomic layer epitaxy”. In the (evolving) list of publications on the history of ALD on the website of the Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA), this review is currently the oldest one listed.  

For the 1989 review, among other things, Suntola mapped the laboratories working with ALD known to him at that time. The list is in Table 1 and ordered according to the first publication. The list is very interesting to read through. I notice laboratories (in alphabetical order) from Austria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, UK, USA. From Finland, the list gives (in the order of first publication) Lohja Oy; Tampere University of Technology; Helsinki University of Technology, Laboratory of Physics; Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Chemistry; Joensuu University. 

I hope many people interested the field of ALD will have a look at the article - and perhaps even cite it in future publications. 

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

Thursday 29 November 2018

2018 Millennium Technology Prize ceremony in Youtube - Suntola and ALD

On November 29, 1974, the original patent (FIN 52359) on atomic layer epitaxy, nowadays known as atomic layer deposition (ALD), was filed by Tuomo Suntola with his colleague Jorma Antson. In 2018, Suntola and ALD technology were honoured with Millennium Technology Prize.

November 29, 2018, will be a honourable day to share a collection of records of the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize event, available in Youtube. Two videos are professional productions by Technology Academy Finland, others are amateur captures by myself. Enjoy :)

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

Sunday 25 November 2018

Neste: "Curiosity and forward looking" describe innovative researcher Tuomo Suntola

Dr. Tuomo Suntola, the Finnish inventor of Atomic Layer Deposition and winner of the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize, worked at the Neste company for over a decade. Recently, Neste published a feature article on Suntola.  With permission, the article is republished in ALD History Blog. 

Original article: Related Twitter post:
Related, 22.5.2018 (in Finnish):

Finnish physicist, Dr. Tuomo Suntola, who made an impressive over ten year career at Neste and has won the highly appreciated Millennium Technology Prize this spring, is described as an innovative researcher with a genuine curiosity and passion for his work.

Dr. Suntola worked from 1987 to 1998 as a Managing Director of Microchemistry Ltd, subsidiary of Neste and later Fortum. Lars Peter Lindfors, Neste’s Senior Vice President of Technology had the pleasure of working as a researcher at Neste in the beginning of 1990’s in a cooperation with Suntola and other talented researchers of Microchemistry. The subject of cooperation, as part of the Lindfors dissertation, was the production of catalysts with ALD technology, Suntola’s award winning innovation.

Saturday 24 November 2018

ECS meeting invited ALD history talk: slides and proceedings

In October 2018, I had the honor to give an invited talk at the Electrochemical Society (ECS) fall meeting, organized in Cancun, Mexico (AiMES2018). ECS has had an ALD session since early 2000s. For me, this was the first time to attend the event: I got a very nice impression of the ALD session specifically and on this massive meeting in general.

The talk was called "Learnings from an Open Science Effort: Virtual Project on the History of ALD". Abstract is as follows:
"This work summarizes learnings from an Open Science effort “Virtual project on the History of ALD” (VPHA), started in 2013 to clarify the early history of atomic layer deposition (ALD). ALD is a multi-tool of nanotechnology and has been e.g. enabler of the continuation of Moore’s law of transistor scaling. ALD has been developed historically through two independent routes: atomic layer epitaxy (ALE) and molecular layering (ML). Especially the details on ML have remained little known to a broader audience. In this contribution, learnings in VPHA are seen from the viewpoint of its voluntary coordinator (the author self) related to historical details of ALD as well as from an organizational viewpoint and some other viewpoints. Selected details related to ALD’s history not fully accurately described in three earlier review articles are pointed out. The work made in VPHA has resulted in journal articles, presentations and an exhibition, and VPHA has in part provided the foundation for granting the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize to Dr. Tuomo Suntola. At the time of writing this contribution, in July 2018, VPHA is still on-going, and more volunteers are welcome to join the effort."

The slides are available through ECSarXiv: (DOI: 10.1149/

Sunday 11 November 2018

Virtual issue of Chemistry of Materials in Honor of Professor Markku Leskelä

A "virtual issue" - an electronic collection of articles centered on a topic - was published by Chemistry of Materials in July 2018 to celebrate the influential career of professor Markku Leskelä at the verge of his retirement. The virtual issue was published just in time for the ALD 2018 conference, so the conference could celebrate at the same time the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize for Dr. Tuomo Suntola as well as the virtual issue of Prof Leskelä. 

The full virtual issue can be accessed through: It contains scientific articles published by Leskelä, as well as scientific articles influenced by Leskelä's works, in different journals by ACS. 

A related editorial by his close colleague and first student, Prof. Mikko Ritala and by Chem. Mater. editors is accessible at:, entitled "In Honor of Professor Markku Leskelä." 

Saturday 28 July 2018

VPHA website updated with ECS Transactions article info

The VPHA website,, has been on July 28, 2018 updated with info of the ECS Transactions article in press:
  • Proceedings: R. L. Puurunen, "Learnings from an Open Science Effort: Virtual Project on the History of ALD", ECS Transactions, in press (2018). Open access preprint, DOI: 10.1149/

As the international ALD 2018 conference in Korea starts on July 29, 2018, it is good to spread the message that VPHA is still on-going and more volunteers are welcome to join. As communicated in the VPHA status update in May 2018, the plan is to produce jointly one more brief concluding review article from within VPHA. (Previous publications are listed in the Publication Plan here; the review now in question belongs to Item 10.) The articles produced earlier from within VPHA have become impactful within the field of ALD what comes to citations and other attention (see e.g. Altmetrics for the "ALE essay"). The last review is expected to be impactful, too.

Sunday 22 July 2018

VPHA status update 22.7.2018 - ECS Transactions info

The message below was sent to 76 VPHA contributors and 56 prospective contributors.

From: Puurunen Riikka
Sent: 22 July 2018 22:31
To: info @
Cc: Puurunen Riikka; jonas.sundqvist@ <>
Subject: VPHA status update 22.7.2018 - ECS Transactions info

Dear current and prospective VPHA contributors,

This VPHA update shares information on an ECS Transactions article related to an invited talk at the ECS fall symposium. The previous VPHA status update was sent on May 28, 2018. All VPHA status updates published in the ALD History Blog can be viewed in this link.

Best regards,
Riikka Puurunen, voluntary VPHA coordinator

Sunday 1 July 2018

The question that started the Virtual Project on the History of ALD

I noticed that the discussion chain, which initiated the Virtual Project on the History of ALD, is still accessible in LinkedIn. Here, I copy the first post, which was a question by myself. Markedly, there in total 26 items of discussion at the moment (and one "like"). To my knowledge, the post was written on May 6, 2013. Screen capture of the post, full copy of the text below. (I was not a professor at Aalto University then, but a senior researcher at VTT.) Link to the discussion chain, which is still open:

Monday 28 May 2018

VPHA status update 28.5.2018 - 2018 Millennium Technology Prize and VPHA's next steps

The message below was sent to 76 VPHA contributors and 54 prospective contributors.  
From: Puurunen Riikka
Sent: 28. toukokuuta 2018 16:31
To: info
Cc: Puurunen Riikka <>; Jonas Sundqvist <>
Subject: VPHA status update 28.5.2018 - 2018 Millennium Technology Prize and VPHA's next steps

Dear VPHA contributors and prospective contributors,

This is the first status update of the Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA) in year 2018 - earlier updates can be found in this link.

This update shares information on the following topics:

* The 2018 Millennium Technology Prize to Dr. Tuomo Suntola
* Words of thank to the community by Dr. Tuomo Suntola
* Puurunen’s invited talk at the ECS fall 2018 ALD symposium
* VPHA’s next step

With best regards,
Riikka Puurunen, VPHA’s voluntary coordinator

Sunday 27 May 2018

Dr. Suntola thanks the community for support and shares honor for the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize

Upon request, I transmit two messages from Dr. Tuomo Suntola, the awardee of the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize, to the ALD community.

First, Dr. Tuomo Suntola, who has had a busy week after receiving the prize on May 22, 2018, would like to thank the community for the broad support for the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize. This support, seen as forty supporting letters accompanying the nomination letter, has evidently had a significant role in strengthening the nomination. It was the pleasure and honour of the undersigned to spread information of the coming nomination at conferences in 2017 and to collect the supporting letters from esteemed scientists and technologists from various organizations around the world. In the words of Dr. Suntola in his speech at the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize ceremony:

” …  also, my sincere thanks go to the materials research and semiconductor processing community for the broad support behind the nomination.”

Second, Dr. Tuomo Suntola wishes that the prize will be experienced as credit for all actors in the field. Again, from his speech at the ceremony:

” … In the long run, I like to share the honor of the Millennium prize with all my colleagues having worked with me for the technology, the companies hosting and financing the development, and the co-operating universities and funding organizations supported the work. I like to thank all parties for the confidence and patience in getting through times when the goal looked distant. Finally, my special thanks go to the thousands of scientists and engineers who, finally, have made the technology a global success and an important part of our everyday life.”

It is an honour for myself and for the ALD History Blog as publication platform to transmit these messages from Dr. Tuomo Suntola to the community.

Espoo, Finland, May 27, 2018,
Riikka Puurunen
Associate Professor, Catalysis Science and Technology, Aalto University
Voluntary coordinator of the Virtual Project on the History of ALD

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

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Congratulations Dr. Tuomo Suntola for the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize!

Dr. Tuomo Suntola has been awarded the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize for the Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) innovation. Warmest congratulations!   

In the view of the undersigned, Virtual Project on the History of ALD (VPHA, has been crucial for realizing the prize this year. Drafting the nomination letter was a natural continuation of the VPHA ALD history activities. The scientific publications created in VPHA describe the history of ALD in a balanced way and thus directly supported the prize. Wikipedia updates have been important in spreading the information beyond the immediate scientific ALD community. Thank you to all who have been involved in these voluntary works and for the numerous supporting letters provided!
  • List of three scientific articles on the history of ALD, created within ALD, below.
  • A longer list of ALD-history-related publications is available at
  • Previous ALD History Blog posts related to the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize here.
  • Some photos of the events on May 22 and 23 at the end of the post. 

Dr. Tuomo Suntola deserves the prize extremely well for his breakthrough pioneering accomplishments in ALD technology. Suntola has always supported the ALD history activities by the undersigned; likewise, it has been great to feel the widespread support in the international ALD community for the prize to Suntola. I hope that the prize can still further unite the ALD community and spread understanding of this enabling "hidden technology" to the general public.

Congratulations Tuomo Suntola; congratulations the rest of us in the ALD community; let us enjoy this moment!