Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Saws made of carbon

09.09.2013
More material could be saved when manufacturing wafers in future. Ultra-thin saws made of carbon nanotubes and diamond would be able to cut through silicon wafers with minimum kerf loss. A new method makes it possible to manufacture the saw wires.

You can’t saw without producing sawdust – and that can be expensive if, for example, the “dust” comes from wafer manufacturing in the photovoltaic and semiconductor industries, where relatively high kerf loss has been accepted as an unavoidable, if highly regrettable, fact of life.


New ultra-thin saw wire for cutting silicon wafers: diamond on top of carbon nanotubes.
© Fraunhofer IWM

But now scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg together with colleagues from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO have developed a saw wire that is set to effect dramatic reductions in kerf loss: in place of diamond-impregnated steel wires, the researchers use ultra-thin and extremely stable threads made of carbon nanotubes coated with diamond.

The potential of coated carbon nanotubes has long been understood: possible applications include its use as a hard and tough composite material or as a component of highly sensitive sensors and thermoelectric generators. However, the new material is extremely difficult to synthesize. Diamonds only grow under extreme conditions – at temperatures of around 900 degrees Celsius in an atmosphere containing hydrocarbons. Growing diamonds on nanotubes is a tricky proposition, because carbon tends to form graphite. In order to catalyse the formation of the diamond phase, it’s necessary to use reactive hydrogen to prohibit the deposition of graphite. However, this process also damages the carbon nanotubes.

But the IWM scientist Manuel Mee found a solution for protecting the fine carbon nanotubes, which grow like forests on a substrate: “During our first experiments, fused silica from the reaction chamber accidentally came into contact with the coating plasma. It settled on the substrate and protected it against the aggressive hydrogen.” And to his surprise, diamonds actually grew on this layer. “What followed was careful, painstaking work,” points out Mee. “We had to study the silicon oxide layer, which was deposited in an undefined manner, and find a method of controlling the deposition and optimizing the process.” Tests with a transmission electron microscope at CSIRO’s lab in Australia revealed that the nanotubes actually survived under their protective layer.

A German-Australian success story

How exactly to proceed from there was the question that now faced the scientists. If they found a way to coat with diamond the nanothreads that the CSIRO specialists make from nanotubes, these diamond-coated nanothreads could be used to manufacture ultra-thin saws capable of cutting through silicon wafers for instance. The Australian team at CSIRO is one of the principal global experts with the know-how to manufacture yarns from carbon nanotubes.

The manufacturing process requires special carbon nanotube “forests”, which can be extracted as an ultra-thin “felt” and twisted into a very thin yarn ten to twenty micrometers in diameter. In principle, this diamond-coated yarn is the ideal material on which to base a new generation of saws, which could be used in the solar industry for example. As Mee explains: “The new saw wires held out the promise of being far superior to traditional steel wires. Because of their high tensile strength, they can be manufactured much thinner than steel wires – and that means significantly less kerf loss.”

In the meantime, the physicist has managed to implement his idea. A joint patent application by Fraunhofer and CSIRO has already been filed for the method and corresponding products. Mee and his colleagues are currently carrying out sawing tests. “To be able to show our partners in industry the potential the technology holds,” says Mee, “we have to demonstrate how it can help solar companies to save material when processing wafers.”

Manuel Mee | Fraunhofer Research News
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2013/august/saws-made-of-carbon.html

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
01.12.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht New process produces hydrogen at much lower temperature
01.12.2016 | Waseda University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>