The formation of diamond and cubic boron nitride (cbn) crystallites from parent crystals or solids (DiaTex)




A novel crystal ablation technology, DiaTex , was developed at the University of  Nottingham. This technology utilises intense energy beams for producing intricate shapes, patterns and textures on surfaces of diamond and other crystallographic materials.  The DiaTex technology creates highly precise features for the production of micro tooling, industrial, scientific and gemstone applications.

Key Benefits

The technology enables the creation of arrays of crystallites or other intricate shapes and forms on the surface of diamond or similar materials by using lasers or other techniques (e.g.. ion beam,  electro-chemical etching, abrasive jets). This has significant benefit for applications where the surface characteristics need to be closely controlled. The value add for this technology is the fact that  it enables us to cut diamond, which is one of the hardest materials, along particular diamond crystallographic directions to enable very precise and intricate geometrical textures that are not possible using traditional methods.

Specific benefits include:
    ·   Unique possibilities for the production of micro tooling for ultra precision applications. 
    ·   A rapid and flexible means of producing optimised heat sinks for micro electronics from diamond.
    ·   Highly novel possibilities of precisely controlled extremely wear resistant surfaces.
    ·   A means of forming unique features into diamond surfaces for cosmetic applications.

Markets Sectors

This technology is likely to have major impact in the following fields:

Micro-cutters (i.e. milling/grinding) with micro-crystallites that have preferential orientation along particular diamond crystallographic directions to enable their enhanced cutting performances. The markets for these tools are the producers of high value add components particularly for medical and aerospace applications.

Micro-heat sinks made for micro-electronic industry. Because of the high heat dissipation capability, the micro-arrays made from diamond structures will improve the efficiency of the micro-electronics. The proprietary DiaTEX technology allows specific heat dissipation shapes to be formed into diamond structures to suit the requirements of electronic micro circuits.

Tribological characteristics are dependent on the micro-surface geometry. Diamond being the hardest material, its tribological applications can be taken further by orienting the micro-arrays along preferential crystallographic directions to control its working properties (e.g. coefficient of friction, heat dissipation, wear resistance).

Gem and cosmetic applications. The technology lends itself to producing micro features in diamond which will offer a host of applications in jewellery; and

Diamond micro fluidic devices. Diamond is generally a non wetable material, making it ideal for the analysis of fluids. The new fast, flexible and low cost method of forming micro grooves in diamond will help to fully exploit the advantages of diamond in these applications . Therefore producers of micro fluidic devices for medical applications would most likely be interested in this technology.

Technical Information

This technology can usually be implemented on a hybrid laser machining centre equipped with a Nd:YAG Q-switched pulse laser mounted on linear stages to enable 3-axis movement is used for ablating (milling) layers on diamond structures for the formation of micro-crystallites/arrays.

The laser operating parameters are usually optimised depending on the substrate, enabling the control of the  depth of the microgrooves, sharpness of cut edges. By varying the laser output power, pulse frequency, and beam feed speed, various groove widths and depths is achieved.

Once the optimum parameters were identified, laser ablation of multiple grooves provided a rapid method of generating patterns that replicate (at different sizes and orientations) the predominant morphological shapes found on diamond crystal faces produced from the HPHT diamond synthesis process namely: squares, triangles and hexagons and their derivatives; using multiple passes with successive sweeping angles different shape of crystallites have been patterned as micro-arrays (with ranges of 0.1-0.6 mm and 0.1-0.3 mm for spacing crystallite width respectively) on polycrystalline diamond structures (5x10x0.5mm).

IP Status

A patent application covering the technology was filed by the University of Nottingham in December 2008 and is published as WO 2010/070294 . The University is seeking to licence this technology to one or more partners as appropriate. We would also undertake R&D contracts and work closely with industrial partners to tailor our process for specific industrial applications and take the proven process into production.




(EN) An abrasive element (10) of crystalline abrasive material, comprising a body (12) and has an array of cutting elements (14) which project from a surface (16) of the body (12). The crystalline abrasive material may be a natural or synthetic crystal. The abrasive element (10) may be a film formed by deposition. The crystalline abrasive material may be diamond or cubic boron nitride, monocrystalline or polycrystalline. The cutting elements (14) may be aligned along a crystallographic plane or planes. The shape, size and form of the cutting elements (14) is controlled in the production process. The cutting elements (14) may be formed via laser ablation.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
George Rice
Commercial Manager, Engineering & Physical Sciences
The University of Nottingham
0115 82 32190
Paul Butler-Smith
Dragos Axinte
Mark Daine
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