ADT Announces Immediate Availability of World's First All-Diamond AFM Probes

Published on September 10, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Advanced Diamond Technologies (ADT) announces the immediate availability of NaDiaProbes(TM)-the world's first all-diamond atomic force microscopy (AFM) probes. Harnessing the unsurpassed properties of diamond, NaDiaProbes provide outstanding sharpness, dimensional stability, and wear resistance in AFM probes that have 30 times the price performance of industry standard silicon nitride (SiN) probes. NaDiaProbes are suitable for general imaging applications as well as for metrology, inspection, and manufacturing at the nanoscale.

NaDiaProbes are not diamond-coated probes or pieces of diamond mounted on cantilevers; the entire cantilever and tip assembly consists of UNCD®, a thin-film form of nanocrystalline diamond. Starting with UNCD Wafers™, Frost & Sullivan’s 2006 Product Innovation of the Year for diamond films, which are known for their excellent uniformity and low film stress, ADT applies standard micromachining techniques to make diamond devices that leverage semiconductor economics for affordability and consistency.

Compared with standard silicon or SiN probes, NaDiaProbes last over 100 times longer when imaging hard surfaces while maintaining tip radii better than 25 nm. NaDiaProbes also exhibit the low adhesion and low surface energy properties of diamond which enhance performance when imaging soft, sticky materials.

“Remember phonograph needles? They had to be replaced every second or third time you listened to a record—very similar to today’s AFM probes. Then came diamond styli which ushered in the era of the LP (long playing record) which transformed the music industry. What diamond did for records it will do to micromachines such as sensors, resonators, switches, and AFM probes,” said ADT’s president Neil Kane.

"Thin, smooth, diamond films on wafers enable groundbreaking products—in this case, the world's first diamond microdevice," said Dr. John Carlisle, ADT's chief technical officer. "NaDiaProbes showcase our ability to make diamond products using semiconductor manufacturing techniques, and they pave the way for advanced MEMS (micro-electrical-mechanical systems) devices. When it comes to an engineering material, it doesn’t get any better than diamond.”

NaDiaProbes for contact-mode imaging in air/vacuum and for TappingMode™ imaging are available at www.thindiamond.com. ADT welcomes inquires from interested distributors, AFM tool vendors, and product developers looking to integrate UNCD devices into their products.

ADT was founded by Kane, Carlisle, and Dr. Orlando Auciello, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), to fulfill the vision of diamond becoming an engineering material platform just as silicon and gallium arsenide are today. “Shipping our first all-diamond device is a watershed event, and this is only the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible,” said Kane. “Future UNCD products will leverage more of the properties of diamond such as its acoustic velocity, thermal, dielectric, and electrochemical properties to make high performance devices such as real-time, portable biosensors that protect our soldiers from weaponized pathogens, high-frequency chips to enable secure wireless communication for cell phone and military applications, and electrodes for water purification,” said Carlisle.

ADT acknowledges the support of the National Science Foundation's SBIR/STTR program and contributions from professors Robert Carpick of the University of Pennsylvania and Kevin Turner of the University of Wisconsin. ADT also acknowledges the State of Illinois’ Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for a development grant.

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