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 December 22, 2014 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 December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Qatar Airways takes first delivery of Airbus' new A350 passenger jet. As Joel Flynn reports it's the planemaker's response to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the culmination of eight years of development. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A BASE jumper rides a lawn chair, a shotgun, and a giant bunch of helium balloons into the sky in what seems like a country version of the movie 'Up." Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
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