Nanocrystalline diamond-related (NCD) devices developed by Anirudha Sumant of the Nanofabrication & Devices Group garnered two of the 2013 R&D 100 awards. Nicknamed the “Oscars of Innovation,” the awards recognize a year’s most important scientific and technological breakthroughs. The winners include the Miraj Diamond™ platform, a manufacturing process developed with AKHAN Technologies, Inc., and the Nanocrystalline Diamond Technologies NCD Plus coating, developed with NCD Technologies. With these awards, Sumant becomes the first Argonne scientist to win two R&D 100 awards in the same year.
The Miraj Diamond™ platform resulted from the marriage of two scientific breakthroughs: the ability to deposit nanocrystalline diamond films at relatively low temperatures and a doping process that makes NCD into a good semiconducting material. Sumant and his colleagues developed the low-temperature NCD deposition technology at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, while the doping technique was developed at AKHAN Technologies, an industry partner based in Illinois. These technologies together will allow manufacturers to create better integrated circuits for telecommunications, defense and aviation electronics.
Sumant’s partnership with AKHAN was forged when Adam Khan, founder and CEO of the company, approached Sumant after a conference talk. AKHAN now uses Sumant’s deposition technique in their manufacturing processes, and intends to expand its use to all its low-temperature diamond processes and an additional range of products through a joint agreement between AKHAN and Argonne.
The second award is for a nanocrystalline diamond coating for micro-tools. Sumant originally developed the technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Patrick Heaney, a former student there. This technique uses hot filaments to deposit coatings of diamond a few tenths of a millimeter thick. The thin layers of diamond protect and strengthen micro-size cutting tools, extending their working lifespan while preserving their precise geometry. This technology is now being used by NCD Technologies, a company Heaney started to produce NCD-coated micro-drills. The coating technology was patented by Sumant and licensed by Intel.