Sculptured thin films are nanostructured inorganic materials with unidirectionally varying properties that can be designed and realized in a controllable manner using physical vapor deposition. We trace their development from their precursors, from chronological as well as morphological points of view. Their continuum electromagnetic constitutive relations are presented, along with a control model to link their nanostructure to their continuum properties. Both accomplished and emerging applications are reviewed, and directions for future research are suggested.
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