Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Diamonds are a scientist's best friend

Abstract:
Research into building better small machines

Diamonds are a scientist's best friend

July 14, 2005

Do diamonds really last forever? That's the hope of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers who are trying to solve the problems associated with building extremely small machines and having them withstand the test of time, wear and tear.

The problem is that these machines are so small - microscopic or smaller - that their moving parts cannot be assisted by lubricants; instead, they have to function in a dry state, like a car with no oil.

A really, really small car with no oil.

"They no longer behave in the same way as they do at the macro-scale, where materials may be far stronger, have more power to catalyze chemical reactions, be more optically responsive, and more," says Robert Carpick, associate professor of engineering physics. "That is why it is very interesting to study the fundamental physics of nanoscale materials and also to try to utilize these unique properties for real applications."

An example of a real application includes the tiny sensors in cars that sense rapid deceleration and deploy airbags.

Carpick and his colleagues - including collaborators from Argonne National Laboratories - recently published research that is integral to better understanding the issues facing the engineering of both micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems, called MEMS and NEMS. The paper, published in the journal Advanced Materials, explored a material made by their Argonne collaborators, ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) and, in particular, its structure and surface chemistry.

"When you consider fabricating devices with sliding and rotational motion, you need to consider the structure and surface chemistry of the materials at the location of contact, called a tribological interface," Carpick explains.

It's this issue of tribology - the study of friction, lubrication and wear of moving parts - that's particularly interesting when considering MEMS and NEMS. Just because small machines can be made doesn't mean that they can be made to work well and not wear down the researchers say.

Due to the vast knowledge of its use in microscale fabrication, the material of choice has traditionally been silicon. But because silicon does not respond well to uses that require repetitive sliding or rolling, the machines made from it fail. Two solutions to the problem include improving silicon's wearability or finding a new material. Carpick is putting his money a new material: diamond.

The published study reported on data taken exclusively at the Synchrotron Radiation Center, an electron storage ring located at UW-Madison that uses the light produced by electrons whizzing around a basketball court-sized ring to conduct spectroscopy - a method that uses electrons kicked out of the sample by this light like knocking bricks out of a wall - to analyze the bonding configuration of materials like diamond in detail.

"To our surprise, we found that the structure and surface chemistry of the diamond at the tribological interface is worse than the original diamond. We found that at the tribological interface, the surface is more graphitic in nature," explains Carpick. "This would be bad news for a MEMS device."

The solution offered by Carpick and his colleagues is to coat the surface of the diamond by removing the graphite and attaching hydrogen to the remaining pure diamond. This forms a strongly bonded "atomic cap" to the surface. Like putting varnish on a wooden table, the diamond surface becomes sealed and the diamond becomes water repellent, a critical feature for a machine that runs without lubrication.

"This means, if one wishes to build MEMS or NEMS devices from UNCD, then we have shown a way to minimize friction and adhesion, and this will help us to develop more reliable, robust (and) long lasting MEMS devices," Carpick notes.

The next step for Carpick includes a collaborative effort with UW-Madison physics Professor Gelsomina "Pupa" de Stasio, who has developed world-renowned spectroscopy methods at the Synchrotron Radiation Center. The team has been awarded a $480,000 grant from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research to tackle the issue of wear and tear on these thin diamond films and to answer the question of whether diamonds can truly last forever - or at least a really long time.

####

Contact:
Robert Carpick
(608) 263-4891
carpick@engr.wisc.edu

Copyright © University of Wisconsin-Madison

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Possible Futures

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

MEMS

IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting To Celebrate 60th Anniversary as The Leading Technical Conference for Advanced Semiconductor Devices September 18th, 2014

Carbyne morphs when stretched: Rice University calculations show carbon-atom chain would go metal to semiconductor July 21st, 2014

Leti to Present Technological Platforms Targeting Industry’s Needs for the Future at Semicon West Workshop: Presentation at STS Session to Focus on Leti Advanced Lithography Programs for 1x Nodes and on Silicon Photonics at TechXPot June 25th, 2014

Mirrorcle Technologies Opens New Company Headquarters May 27th, 2014

Molecular Machines

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

Breakthrough laser experiment reveals liquid-like motion of atoms in an ultra-cold cluster: University of Leicester research team unlocks insights into creation of new nano-materials July 25th, 2014

NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast July 22nd, 2014

University of Illinois researchers demonstrate novel, tunable nanoantennas July 14th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE