Orders Highlight Increasing Interest in Nanocrystalline Diamond Films

Gaining momentum from recent orders and installations, sp3 Diamond Technologies, Inc. (sp3), a leading supplier of diamond film products, equipment and services, today announced two new orders for its Model 650 hot filament chemical vapor deposition (HFCVD) diamond reactor. The first order was received from the India Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, which will install one system as part of the expansion of its Nano Functional Materials Technology Centre (NFMTC). The second order comes from an unnamed Japanese manufacturer.

“These orders, along with the Heriot-Watt installation at the end of last year, highlight the increasing interest not only in the material itself, but also in a product capable of delivering large scale and cost-effective thin-film diamond deposition,” said Dwain Aidala, president and COO of sp3 Diamond Technologies. “The Model 650 is the only tool with this capability and, as such, leads the industry in providing CVD diamond to a growing number of market segments worldwide.”

IIT Madras selected sp3’s Model 650 to explore CVD diamond’s ability to improve the wear resistance of the drawing dies that are used by the Murugappa group of Industries.

“Nanocrystalline diamond films are considered to be the best candidates for wear resistant and other tribological coating applications because of its high hardness and low friction coefficient, combined with high thermal conductivity,” said Prof. M.S.R. Rao of IIT Madras. “Hot filament CVD ensures high uniformity over large areas for planar and non-planar surfaces. Nanocrystalline diamond-coated tungsten carbide dies can increase their lifetime by a factor of 10-15 times.”

sp3’s Model 650 hot filament CVD diamond deposition reactor enables cost-effective, large area deposition of high quality, polycrystalline diamond films with a thickness of between 100 nanometers and 50 microns, on a wide variety of substrate materials. The chemical vapor deposition technology is ideal for applications such as diamond on wafers in sizes up to 300 mm, wear coatings, substrates for thermal management, amorphous silicon deposition for solar cells and other products, electrodes for water treatment and electrochemistry, passivation layers for semiconductor chucks, as well as cutting tools.

In addition to the industrial application for drawing dies, the research group of Prof. M.S.R. Rao at IIT Madras will perform fundamental research on nanocrystalline diamond, especially in the emerging areas of nanoscale properties such as superconductivity and thermal conductivity.

Prof. M.S.R. Rao added, “In the past, diamond’s obvious benefits have been outweighed by prohibitive cost and the restricted ability to make and deposit thin-film diamond over a large area. sp3’s Model 650 overcomes both of these factors to the extent that diamond is a commercially viable material for multiple applications.”

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi, is the main source of funding (78.8%) for the establishment of NFMTC at IIT Madras. Two Chennai-based industries contribute to the rest of the funding to make this venture possible: Murugappa group (12.7%) and Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (8.5%). The Model 650 will be installed at IIT Madras as part of a US $6 million research project focused on developing nanotechnology research in India. Prof. M.S.R. Rao, Prof. S. Ramaprabhu and Prof. S.S. Bhattacharya are the principal Investigators of NFMTC from IIT Madras, whereas, persons in charge from the two Industries are Mr. M.M. Murugappa (Murugappa Group) and Dr. C.B. Rao (Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals).

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