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21 March 2001 Science and technology of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) thin films for multifunctional devices
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MEMS devices are currently fabricated primarily in silicon because of the available surface machining technology. However, Si has poor mechanical and tribological properties, and practical MEMS devices are currently limited primarily to applications involving only bending and flexural motion, such as cantilever accelerometers and vibration sensors. However, because of the poor flexural strength and fracture toughness of Si, and the tendency of Si to adhere to hydrophyllic surfaces, even these simple devices have limited dynamic range. Future MEMS applications that involve significant rolling or sliding contact will require the use of new materials with significantly improved mechanical and tribological properties, and the ability to perform well in harsh environments. Diamond is a superhard material of high mechanical strength, exceptional chemical inertness, and outstanding thermal stability. The brittle fracture strength is 23 times that of Si, and the projected wear life of diamond MEMS moving mechanical assemblies (MEMS-MMAs) is 10,000 times greater than that of Si MMAs. However, as the hardest known material, diamond is notoriously difficult to fabricate. Conventional CVD thin film deposition methods offer an approach to the fabrication of ultra-small diamond structures, but the films have large grain size, high internal stress, poor intergranular adhesion, and very rough surfaces, and are consequently ill-suited for MEMS-MMA applications. A thin film deposition process has been developed that produces phase-pure ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) with morphological and mechanical properties that are ideally suited for MEMS applications in general, and MMA use in particular. We have developed lithographic techniques for the fabrication of diamond microstructures including cantilevers and multi-level devices, acting as precursors to micro-bearings and gears, making UNCD a promising material for the development of high performance MEMS devices.
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Orlando H. Auciello, Dieter M. Gruen, Alan R. Krauss, A. Jayatissa, Anirudha Sumant, John Tucek, Derrick C. Mancini, Nicolai A. Moldovan, A. Erdemir, D. Ersoy, Michael N. Gardos, Hans Gerd G. Busmann, and E. M. Meyer "Science and technology of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) thin films for multifunctional devices", Proc. SPIE 4235, Smart Structures and Devices, (21 March 2001);

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