An apparatus for and a method of growing thin films of the elemental semiconductors (group IVB), i.e., silicon, germanium, tin, lead, and, especially diamond, using modified atomic layer epitaxial (ALE) growth techniques are disclosed. In addition, stoichiometric and nonstoichiometric compounds of the group IVB elements are also grown by a variation of the method according to the present invention. The ALE growth of diamond thin films is carried-out, inter alia, by exposing a plurality of diamond or like substrates alternately to a halocarbon reactant gas, e.g., carbon tetrafluoride (CF.sub.4), and a hydrocarbon reactant gas, e.g., methane (CH.sub.4), at substrate temperatures between 300 and 650 Celsius. A stepping motor device portion of the apparatus is controlled by a programmable controller portion such that the surfaces of the plurality of substrates are given exposures of at least 10.sup.15 molecules/cm.sup.2 of each of the reactant gases. The chemical reaction time to complete the growth of an individual atom layer is approximately 25.times.10.sup.-6 second.