Awards > National Professional and Technical Awards > John A. Thornton Memorial Award/Lecture

John A. Thornton Memorial Award/Lecture


To recognize outstanding research or technological innovation in the areas of interest to AVS, with emphasis on the fields of thin films, plasma processing, and related topics.


The nominee shall have made a pioneering contribution to the science or technology of thin films, plasma processing, or related fields that advances the state of knowledge or the art to a significant and well-recognized extent. Guiding examples are found in the work of John Thornton: his contributions to the theory and practice of magnetron sputtering, his inspired determination of the zone model for sputtered materials. Recognition of recent achievement is encouraged. In any given year an individual may provide a nominating or supporting letter for only one candidate for each award. The award shall be granted without restrictions except that current members of the Board of Directors and the Awards Committee are not eligible. Further, no member of the Awards Committee may nominate or support any nomination.  The AVS Awards Committee reserves the right to consider a candidate for a different award category.

Nature of the Award

This award recognizes outstanding research or technological innovation in the areas of interest to AVS with emphasis on the fields of thin films, plasma processing, and related topics. The award is conferred biennially as a suitable candidate may be identified. The award consists of a cash award, a commemorative plaque stating the nature of the award, and an honorary lectureship at a regular session of the International Symposium.

Establishment and Support

This award is a memorial to Dr. John A. Thornton, who served AVS with a rare distinction that is appreciatively recalled. His devotion to science, his singular contributions to the generation and study of thin films, his effectiveness as an educator, and his unfailing humility won him the uncommon esteem and affection of his colleagues. The memorial was established with an endowing grant from Joy Thornton; significant additions to the endowment were given by the AVS Northern California Chapter and the Thin Film Division. Individual donations were generously contributed by Naftali Lustig, Lucia Markert and Paul Holloway also generously contributed individual donations.

Quick Links

 Start Nomination


2023 - Lars Hultman
“For outstanding research and technological innovation on gas- and metal-ion-assisted PVD for controlling ceramic coatings formation”

2021 - Darrell Schlom
“For pioneering contributions to the development of molecular-beam epitaxy for the growth of complex oxides and its judicious application to create oxides with unparalleled properties”

2019 - Gottlieb Oehrlein
Bio | Interview Transcript | Newsletter Interview
"For groundbreaking contributions to the fundamental understanding of plasma-surface interactions enabling micro- and nanofabrication, using plasma-assisted techniques, including plasma based atomic layer etching"

2017 - Prof. Steven George
Bio | Interview Transcript
"For seminal contributions to understanding, development and applications of atomic layer deposition"

2015 - Dr. Alfred Grill
"For seminal contributions to the invention, development and implementation of the PECVD low-k and ultralow-k dielectrics for ULSI interconnects, enabling continued wire scaling beyond the 90 nm node"

2013 - Ivan Petrov
Bio | Interview Transcript
"For seminal contributions in determining the role of low-energy ion/surface interactions for controlling microstructure evolution during low-temperature growth of transition-metal nitride layers.”

2011 - Vincent M. Donnelly
Bio | Interview Transcript
"For innovation of surface and plasma diagnostics to evaluate the complex kinetics of plasma processing, and for the development of fundamental reaction mechanisms to explain that complexity."

2009 - Frances A. Houle
"For pioneering studies of fundamental physical and chemical mechanisms of surface and thin film modifications."

2007 - Stephen J. Pearton
Bio | Interview Transcript
"For pioneering the science and application of advanced device fabrication techniques, including plasma etching, ion implantation for doping and electrical isolation, and formation of Ohmic and Schottky contacts for compound semiconductors."

2005 - Stan Veprek
Bio | Interview Transcript
"For the generic design concept of strong and hard materials as well as their deposition as thin films by plasma assisted techniques."

2003 - William D. Sproul
"For seminal contributions to the science and technology of sputtering."

2001 - Samuel D. Bader
"For his seminal contributions to the atomic-level understanding of surface and thin film magnetism."

1999 - Timothy J. Coutts
"For his innovative and outstanding research, teaching, and technical leadership in the optimization and applications of thin films as transparent conduction oxides and solar-cells."

1997 - James M.E. Harper
"For his pioneering research on ion beam deposition and sputtered thin films."

1995 - Jan-Eric Sundgren
"For his seminal contributions to the science and applications of hard coatings, particularly transition-metal nitrides."

1994 - David W. Hoffman*
"For basic contributions to the effects of magnetron sputtering on the stress and microstructure of thin films, gas dynamics and resputtering."

1993 - John W. Coburn & Harold F. Winters
Bio | Bio | Interview Transcript
"For seminal work in the mechanistic aspects of materials processing with glow discharges and ion beams.

1992 - Thomas R. Anthony
"For pioneering contributions to the fundamental understanding development and effective applications of CVD diamond technology."

1991 - Joseph E. Greene
"For outstanding research in the area of thin-film science with emphasis on the effects of ion bombardment on the growth and properties of semiconductor materials."

1990 - Maurice H. Francombe
"For contributions to thin film processes and materials for solid state components."

1989 - Eric Kay
"For pioneering contributions to the study of film growth phenomena in sputtering and plasma polymerization, including study of microstructure relationship to film properties."

This award will be given biennially in odd numbered years.

* deceased