Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Ultraprecision Manufacturing Technology Center
As new technologies yield smaller systems, the demand for machining capabilities with submicron tolerances has increased. These machining capabilities, typically used by the optics industry, allow for mirror finishes in the production of microsensors. The Ultraprecision Manufacturing Technology Center provides fabrication methods and precision metrology with submicron tolerances for the U.S. government and private industry. The Center also specializes in single-point diamond turning; ion milling; ductile grinding; and miniature/micro optical systems.
Mounted on a Rank Pneumo Nanoform 600 machine, the Center’s single-point diamond turning capability can use either natural or synthetic diamond tools. This capability enables the user to fabricate complex surface finishes such as those used in telescope lenses.
Ion milling, the Center’s most accurate machining capability, can remove material at the atomic level. By using argon ions, a concentrated beam strikes the workpiece and physically dislodges the atoms located at the surface. The user controls the amount of material removed by regulating the exposure time of the workpiece to the argon beam.
The Center’s ductile grinding capability uses a Precitech Optimum 2800 machine with an air-bearing spindle and diamond grinding wheel. Typically, this capability is performed on an ultraprecision ceramic substrate such as silicon carbide or sapphire.
The Center’s miniature/micro optical systems, such as its monolithic minispectrometer, demonstrate that high- performance instruments can be built in small sizes and at low cost. These instruments have applications in environmental monitoring, on-line process monitoring, remote sensing, and chemical detection.
Through technology transfer, the Ultraprecision Manufacturing Technology Center’s capabilities are available to government and industrial customers. Typical activities include problem solving, researching, and prototyping. Currently, the Center is working with the U.S. Navy on improving the safety of microsensors used in torpedoes.
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