Abstract: Atomic Layer Deposition is a materials science technique for making thin films. It relies on volatile, thermally stable chemicals (“precursors”) that can be delivered in the gas phase to react at a surface to make a film. This is where an inherent contradiction lies: precursors have to be reactive enough to adsorb at a surface and undergo chemical transformation, but stable enough to not react before (or after!) they encounter the surface. In this talk, I will highlight three examples of target thin films (tungsten oxide, copper metal, and lead sulphide) and discuss how the precursors were developed, tested, and used. In each case, I will point out flaws in the precursors that were fixed by designing or modifying the ligands in the precursor compound.