Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Tools Carve Glass

Date:
November 10, 2004
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Tools so tiny that they are difficult to see, are solving the problems of carving patterns in glass, ceramics and other brittle materials, according to a Penn State engineer.

Enlarged view of polycrystalline diamond drill.
Credit: Penn State, Eric R. Marsh

Tools so tiny that they are difficult to see, are solving the problems of carving patterns in glass, ceramics and other brittle materials, according to a Penn State engineer.

Related Articles


"Even very brittle materials like glass will cut smoothly at a micron level," says Dr. Eric R. Marsh, associate professor of mechanical engineering. "The tools we are making are small enough so that the brittle materials behave like a malleable material like aluminum, producing smooth curly chips of glass or ceramic."

Normally, brittle materials come apart in large uncontrolled chunks or they simply fracture completely. The researchers are trying to control the machining process so that well-defined, accurate, microscopic patterns can be created in brittle materials.

Demands for smaller channels in glass for micro fluids, dimples to create tiny chemical reservoirs and MEMs – microelectromechanical systems, fuel the need to find quick, inexpensive ways to create these tiny devices.

Marsh; Chris J. Morgan, graduate student at University of Kentucky, and R. Ryan Vallance, assistant professor, George Washington University, begin with polycrystalline diamond on Carborundum -- a commercially available product -- to create miniature drills and end mills using microelectro discharge machining. EDM removes parts of the millimeter diamond surface by sputtering them off to fashion the tool. They use this noncontact method because the tools are tiny and fragile. The Carborundum base becomes the shaft of the drill or mill end.

The researchers describe how the tools are created and used in an online edition of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, which will be available in hard copy on Dec. 10. The engineers take advantage of the uneven surface created by diamond removal at the microscopic level and use the rough surface for cutting.

The tools spin exceptionally fast to remove material to create dimples or channels. The fast spinning, however, does not mean that the carving takes place rapidly. The tools are so small and so fragile that only very slight pressure, about as much as a paperclip exerts, sculpts the surface. It can take as long as an hour to produce one dimple a half millimeter in diameter.

Slow as that may be, the process would be faster than the current process which employs photolithography. Tiny tools can be designed and manufactured in less than a day and used to create the desired surface immediately. Photolithography requires many more steps and much longer lead-time.

While photolithography is typically only used on silicon chips or wafers, the tiny tools will work on glass, emeralds, sapphires, ceramics of all kinds and calcium fluorite. There are applications in optics, DNA analysis and biocomputers on a chip.

Tiny tools can also create shapes that photolithography cannot. In photolithography, surface shapes have to be built up by layer after layer of material creating a stair-step surface. Tiny tools grind and shape smooth surfaces although they cannot yet achieve the nano-size structures available with photolithography.

"This really is a way to get shapes that we cannot get any other way," says Marsh.

Currently, the researchers are using existing machines designed for larger equipment to operate the tools, but they hope to develop a tabletop appliance. Equipment donations from Professional Instruments and Lion Precision in Minnesota and Panasonic supported this work. The National Science Foundation funded this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Tiny Tools Carve Glass." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041104002831.htm>.
Penn State. (2004, November 10). Tiny Tools Carve Glass. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041104002831.htm
Penn State. "Tiny Tools Carve Glass." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041104002831.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Reuters - Business Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) The entry by Cablevision and Google could intensify the already heated price wars for mobile phone service. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) A robot based on a stick insect can navigate difficult terrain autonomously and adapt to its surroundings. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Pilot Uses Full-Plane Parachute in Crash

Raw: Pilot Uses Full-Plane Parachute in Crash

AP (Jan. 26, 2015) A pilot en route to Hawaii crashed his single-engine plane into the Pacific Ocean Monday and escaped safely thanks to the use of a full-plane parachute. US Coast Guard video captures the dramatic landing. (Jan. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins