Mechatronics Zone
Is There a Diamond Machine in Your Future?

< Previous   Image 2 of 2   

This image shows the box-like shape of a pit the NIST team etched into a diamond surface  and the pit's smooth vertical sidewalls and flat bottom.  (Photo courtesy of NIST.)
This image shows the box-like shape of a pit the NIST team etched into a diamond surface
and the pit's smooth vertical sidewalls and flat bottom.
(Photo courtesy of NIST.)

< Previous   Image 2 of 2   

Return to Article

View Comments: Newest First|Oldest First|Threaded View
User Rank
I think it won't take long
Robbie1   7/29/2014 5:27:01 AM
It won't take long before everyone will have access to diamond made machines, they certainly have the technology for it. You can even find lab created diamond rings these days, so it's just a matter of time before that happens.

User Rank
Re: They're a girl's best friend, not a machine's
jmiller   10/24/2011 10:40:42 PM
Great article.  It's neat to see something like this that is relatively new.  So new, it appears the engineers are really saying, "Cool...so what does it do?"  I enjoy hearing about technology that is so recently developed that engineers aren't really sure what to do with it.  I think this is where a technology like this can grow into something that is much bigger than the discovering engineers believe.

User Rank
MMS & Diamond machines
He'Ary   10/24/2011 10:01:54 AM
As the technique is good at making rectangular things, I suggest the creation of a machine tool in microminiature size.  Such a tool needs a programmable motion X-Y Table.  One design that might fit the bill is a very miniaturized version of US Patent #4,676,492,  1985.  The general geometry enables rectilinear motion in X-Y, transfer of vertical loads directly to substrate (there are no piled up stages), and the drives for the miniaturised system can be electrostatic or any other suitable prime movers.  Electromagnetic would probably be too bulky.

To keep the product in place upon the X-Y table while being machined or processed, magnetics could be used, or quantum grabbing if the system can be cooled to about -200 C. The same quantum grabbing can also be used as prime mover.


User Rank
K1200LT_rider   10/24/2011 9:53:02 AM
Do any MEMS devices use a lubricant (solid or liquid)?  This could be a big deciding factor on how different materials will work together or with themselves.  Dissimilar materials might last longer if they run against each other.  For instance, at the macro sizes, 2 pieces of stainless or aluminum rubbing together easily causes galling.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Re: Merging Science, Engineering and Games
Jon Titus   10/23/2011 5:19:07 PM
From what the NIST people said, it seems more likely they will use diamonds to form the "block" on an engine, for example, rather than the pistons, cams, and gears.  Some of the photos on the Sandia Labs Web site show what can happen as silicon "bearings" and "axles" wear. Lots of wear and tear that leads to catastrophic failure. Diamond might make a better substrate rather than a wholesale replacement for silicon in every MEMS device.

For anyone interested in Minecraft, find the Minecraft site at: http://www.minecraft.net/. --Jon



User Rank
Merging Science, Engineering and Games
williamlweaver   10/23/2011 4:37:56 PM
Thanks for a great article, Jon. I'm certain the good folks at NIST are characterizing their new MEMS materials, but I'm concerned that at least at the macroscopic level, building a complex machine out of diamond wouldn't fair very well. The extreme hardness of diamond would be similar to making gears and shafts out of cast iron -- a very hard material that is too brittle to withstand the stresses involved with machines.

However, I'm intrigued with the creation of square objects with diamond. This reminds me of the very popular "Minecraft" game that permits players to create entire cities complete with complex machinery out of square blocks. When NIST perfects the square diamond MEMS fabrication technique, there will be an army of teenage engineers standing by to create.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Re: They're a girl's best friend, not a machine's
Jon Titus   10/21/2011 5:30:22 PM
Not to worry, Beth. The NIST researchers used synthetic diamonds produced at microscopic sizes, so you might still have a shot at a new ring or pendant.  NIST won't try to corner the market for mined dimaonds and I doubt it would pay to carve such diamonds into small slices for future MEMS devices.  When I worked at DuPont in 1969, a chemist in the nextlab worked on methods to separate synthetic diamonds by size. Because the diamonds were tiny, he tried several techniques to suspend diamonds of different weights at individual levels, or "bands," in a fluid with a variety of flow rates. I don't know how the research turned out.

DuPont's interest in diamonds stemmed from a desire to use explosives in new ways. In this case, to create shock waves that turned graphite into tiny industrial diamonds, not gemstones. DuPont made explosives and I worked in the Explosives Department in the Gibbstown, NJ lab, now long gone. Thankfully the diamond "blasts" occurred at a testing ground away from our labs. --Jon

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Use & Power
Jack Rupert, PE   10/21/2011 3:34:40 PM
Are there any practical uses for this type of micromachine yet, or at least fundamental ideas?  Also, I didn't catch what is being used to power them.  I'm sure that's another whole topic.


@Beth - They are probably using industrial diamonds such as those used in saws.  You'll still be able to get your jewelry!  :)

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
They're a girl's best friend, not a machine's
Beth Stackpole   10/21/2011 8:43:10 AM
Interesting post, Jon. I know I'm probably looking at this a bit differently than most of the Design News audience, but machining diamonds to make some sort of machine? That seems like a waste, not to mention, wouldn't the cost factor be an issue given how expensive these gems are?

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Mechatronics Zone
Suppose you wanted to create a FIR filter with your own requirements. How would you find the necessary coefficients, and how many of them would you need?
Switched-capacitor filters have a few disadvantages. They exhibit greater sensitivity to noise than their op-amp-based filter siblings, and they have low-amplitude clock-signal artifacts -- clock feedthrough -- on their outputs.
This column wraps up our discussion of encoders with information about resolvers, which provide angular data over 360 degrees.
Engineers use rotary encoders to measure the angular position of an attached device or to measure distance indirectly.
The Machinist Calc Pro computes speeds and feed rates for milling, turning, and drilling: cutting speed, spindle speed, feed rate (inches/minute), cutting feed, etc.
Design News Webinar Series
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Oct 20 - 24, How to Design & Build an Embedded Web Server: An Embedded TCP/IP Tutorial
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6

Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 11:00 AM
Sponsored by Stratasys
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Gates Corporation
Next Class: 11/11-11/13 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service