Tuomo Suntola

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Tuomo Suntola
Tuomo Suntola received the Millennium Technology Prize 2018.jpg
Tampere, Finland
Alma materHelsinki University of Technology
Known forAtomic layer deposition
AwardsOrder of the Lion of Finland - Knight 1st Class, European SEMI Award in 2004, Millennium Technology Prize 2018
Scientific career
FieldsMaterials Science

Tuomo Suntola (born 1943) is a Finnish physicist, inventor, and technology leader. He is best known for his pioneering research in materials science, developing the thin film growth technique called atomic layer deposition.

Early life[edit]

Suntola was born in Tampere, Pirkanmaa, in 1943, during Continuation War. He showed interest in technology early on, building wooden replicas of second world war aircraft. In his teens his interests expanded and he progressed to radios and amplifiers.[1]

Training and Career[edit]

In 1971, Tuomo Suntola earned his PhD in semiconductor physics from the Helsinki University of Technology. After completing his PhD, Suntola made his first industrial development while working at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a thin film humidity sensor "Humicap" for Vaisala Oy, a Finnish company specialized in meteorological instruments.

In 1974 Suntola started the development of thin film electroluminescent displays in the Finnish company Instrumentarium Oy. He introduced the atomic layer epitaxy (ALE) technology, nowadays known as atomic layer deposition (ALD), as the solution for the manufacturing of the EL-devices which required thin films with very high dielectric strength.[2] The technology was brought into industrial production of EL devices in mid 1980s by Lohja Corporation in Finland.[3] Atomic Layer Deposition later became one of the key manufacturing techniques in the semiconductor device fabrication.

In 1987 Suntola started Microchemistry Ltd as a subsidiary of the national oil company Neste Oy to apply the ALD technology to new application areas like thin film photovoltaic devices, heterogeneous catalysts, and most importantly, to semiconductor devices. In 1998, Microchemistry Ltd., and the ALD technology, was sold to Dutch ASM International, a major supplier of semiconductor manufacturing equipment; Microchemistry Ltd. became ASM Microchemistry Oy as ASM’s Finnish daughter company. In 1997, preceding the acquisition of Microchemistry Ltd, Suntola started as Research Fellow in the national energy company Fortum Corporation, created via the fusion of Neste Corporation, and the national Electric Utility Company. Suntola’s activity in Fortum was focused to renewable energies and advanced energy technologies. He retired from Fortum in 2004, but continues as a Board Member in Picosun Oy, a Finnish manufacturer of ALD reactors.

Dr. Suntola has many important patents on ALD technology and thin film devices. Throughout his industrial career, Dr. Suntola has kept close contact with the academic society. In 1970s, he gave lectures on Semiconductor Physics at Tampere University of Technology. Since his student times he has been interested in the philosophy of science and the foundations of physics. After a fundamental breakthrough in 1995 he has been working for a holistic view of the physical reality referred to as the Dynamic Universe. In his book, The Short History of Science, Suntola traces the development of the scientific picture of reality from antique to present day.

Dr. Suntola is one of the founders of the Physics Foundations Society dedicated to the search for a deepened understanding of physical reality. Since 2015 he has also served as the chairman of the Finnish Society for Natural Philosophy.


In 2004 Suntola received the European SEMI Award "Honoring the Pioneer in Atomic Layer Deposition Techniquesthat paved the way for the development of nanoscale semiconductor devices".[3]

In 2018 Suntola won the Finnish Millennium Technology Prize for his contribution to the development of information technology on the basis that "The extremely thin isolating or conducting films needed in microprocessors and computer memory devices can only be manufactured using the ALD technology developed by Tuomo Suntola."[4] The 74-year-old was awarded one million euros ($1.18 million). His technology is used to manufacture ultra-thin material layers for a variety of devices such as computers, smartphones, microprocessors and digital memory devices, enabling high performance in small size.[5]

Notable publications[edit]

  • T. Suntola, "On the Mechanism of Switching Effects in Chalcogenide Thin Films", Solid-State Electronics 1971, Vol. 14, pp. 933–938
  • 1972-11-12/1979-08-21, US 4,164,868 Suntola, Capacitive humidity transducer
  • 1974-11-29/1977-11-15, US 4,058,430 Suntola, Antson, Method for producing compound thin films
  • 1979-02-28/1983-11-01, US 4,413,022 Suntola, Pakkala, Lindfors, Method for performing growth of compound thin films
  • 1980-08-20/1983-06-14, US 4,388,554 Suntola, Antson, Electroluminescent display component
  • T. Suntola, "Atomic Layer Epitaxy", Tech. Digest of ICVGE-5, San Diego, 1981
  • T. Suntola, J. Hyvärinen, "Atomic Layer Epitaxy", Annu. Rev. Mater. Sci. 15 (1985) 177
  • 1985-03-05/1990-03-13, US 4,907,862 Suntola, Method for generating electronically controllable color elements and color display based on the method
  • T. Suntola, "Atomic Layer Epitaxy", Materials Science Reports, Volume 4, number 7, December 1989, 0920-2307/89, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.
  • 1990-01-16/2003-03-18, US 6,534,431 Suntola et al., Process and apparatus for preparing heterogeneous catalysts
  • 1991-07-16/2002-12-31, US 6,500,780 Suntola et al., Method for preparing heterogeneous catalysts of desired metal content
  • T.Suntola, "CdTe Thin-Film Solar Cells", MRS Bulletin, Vol. XVIII, No. 10, 1993
  • T. Suntola, "Atomic Layer Epitaxy", Handbook of Crystal Growth 3, Thin Films and Epitaxy, Part B: Growth Mechanisms and Dynamics, Chapter 14, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., 1994.
  • S. Haukka, E.-L. Lakomaa, T. Suntola, "Adsorption controlled preparation of heterogeneous catalysts", Adsorption and its Applications in Industry and Environmental Protection, A.Dabrowski, ed, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.,1998.
  • Tuomo Suntola, The Short History of Science - or the long path to the union of metaphysics and empiricism, September 2018 ISBN 978-952-68101-0-2
  • R. L. Puurunen, H. Kattelus, T. Suntola, "Atomic layer deposition in MEMS technology", Ch. 26 of Handbook of Silicon Based MEMS Materials and Technologies, Ed. V. Lindroos et al. , pp. 433–446, Elsevier, 2010.
  • Tuomo Suntola, The Dynamic Universe - Toward a unified picture of physical reality, Fourth edition, September 2018, ISBN 978-1461027034.


  1. ^ "ALD pioneer Tuomo Suntola explains how his invention sustains Moore's Law". 2019-03-28. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  2. ^ Ahvenniemi, Esko; Akbashev, Andrew R.; Ali, Saima; Bechelany, Mikhael; Berdova, Maria; Boyadjiev, Stefan; Cameron, David C.; Chen, Rong; Chubarov, Mikhail (2016-12-16). "Review Article: Recommended reading list of early publications on atomic layer deposition—Outcome of the "Virtual Project on the History of ALD"". Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films. 35 (1): 010801. doi:10.1116/1.4971389. ISSN 0734-2101.
  3. ^ a b Puurunen, R. L. (2014). "A Short History of Atomic Layer Deposition: Tuomo Suntola's Atomic Layer Epitaxy". Chemical Vapor Deposition. 20 (10–11–12): 332–344. doi:10.1002/cvde.201402012.
  4. ^ "2018 Millennium Technology Prize for Tuomo Suntola – Finnish physicist's innovation enables manufacture and development of information technology products" (Press release). Technology Academy Finland. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  5. ^ "Tech 'Nobel' awarded to Finnish physicist for small smart devices" Phys.org, May 22, 2018

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