Why Small Diamond is a Blast
11 June 2010
Nanotechnology has been hailed as a promising technology that has the potential to transform all aspects of our lives.For a young company, Nanodiamond Products Ltd, the hope is to raise the profile of diamond within the nano-world and open up new markets in targeted sectors mainly in the manufacturing sector. The company has been set up to exploit the application potential of nanodiamond suspensions and concentrates for polishing, wear resistance enhancement and biomedical.
The company moved into new modern premises in Shannon in late 2009 and is now busy testing its products customer applications as it scales up production. The team has identified three initial market sectors where nanotechnology has clear applications. These are for chemical mechanical polishing applications where high surface finishes and low defect density on components are required. The second area is as an additive in electroplating processes and polymers for enhanced wear resistant surfaces and the third potential area is in medical applications such as drug delivery.
Products & Applications
The company already has a range of polycrystalline diamond products in both nanometre and micon sizes. Dependant on the diamond type and application, these are available as either suspensions, slurries, concentrates, or pastes. Polycrystalline Nanodiamond and polycrystalline micron are produced by a detonation process.
Typically nanodiamond has a surface area of 260m2 per gram.
Fig.1: Wear parts are seen as a major application area
According to Chief Executive Officer, Derek Wright the company’s products have already shown potential in polishing and lapping applications and an additive for wear resistant metal coatings such as electrolytic and electroless nickel and chromium.
For polishing , the company says that its polishing concentrates have been successfully used for chemical mechanical polishing of sapphire, and silicon carbide wafers. Nanodiamond can be used in any application where superb finishes are need such as optics polishing for telescopes, laser windows,beam splitters,prisms sapphire windows and LED substrates. In this application nanodiamond has the ability to improve the surface integrity of the polished surface by removing sub-surface damage cracks and microcracks. Surface finishes of < 4 angstroms can be achieved. However, significant increases in polishing rates leading to a reduction in production process time is the most critical factor.
In relation to electrolytic and electroless plating applications, the company believes that nanodiamond can be used with very little modification to the process and give a wear coating that has improved wear resistance , lower friction and a finer structure. The company says that the addition of only 1 g of nanodiamond (75 nm average size) per litre of electrolyte can more than double the microhardness. The kinds of products where this improved coating would be beneficial include sliding bearings, aerospace components; indeed any precision component could, in theory, benefit from the addition of nanodiamond.
The management team
The driving forces of the company are Derek Wright as CEO, Ron Abramshe as Chief Technical Officer and Karl Tuffy as executive director –development Derek Wright’s experience comes from the diamond industry. Prior to setting up Nanodiamond Products, Derek Wright was an executive director at Element Six with responsibility for diamond and cBN sales world-wide where his interest in nanodiamond was first kindled. Ron Abramshe has considerable expertise in micron and submicron particle research and production and is an authority on ultra-detonated diamond. Karl Tuffy who is director of business development, like Derek Wright, came from Element Six and his experience in the last few years has been in micron and nanodiamond.
The management team has also secured key funding for the business from Enterprise Ireland, a government department with the remit to invest in promising new businesses and technologies.