Diamond in Advanced Technology with Optical Machining (DIATOM)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Engineering Science


For centuries diamond has been highly sought after for manufacture into gem stones; the demand stems from its exemplary physical properties. Such remarkable characteristics also render diamond a promising host medium for many advanced technology applications. With recent breakthroughs in the manufacture of synthetic diamond substrates, the adoption of diamond into widespread device application is becoming ever more tangible. However, there is an urgent need for a scalable processing framework that can turn this hard, inert material into functional devices. In the course of this fellowship, I will develop a diverse toolkit based around laser fabrication which can fill this void. Through the use of short pulsed lasers and advanced optical techniques, accurate fabrication in three dimensions beneath the surface of diamond becomes possible.

Dependent on the laser power and how it is focused into the diamond, different processing regimes are possible. Electrically conductive wires may be printed in 3D running through the diamond, as can optical wires for routing light through the diamond. By reducing the laser power, it is possible to introduce just a single defect in the diamond lattice which can then be used as an information bit for quantum processing. Devices manufactured will include detectors of high energy radiation for use at CERN, 3D arrays of defects for quantum enhanced sensing and 3D photonic structures for manipulation of light. This will deliver a route to commercial diamond technology as well as a set of optical fabrication protocols that are transferable across wide technological areas.

The bulk of the work will be carried out at the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. There will be close collaboration though with partners at the Universities of Manchester, Warwick and Strathclyde, harnessing their unique capabilities to develop a complete photonics system for the creation of advanced technology devices in diamond.

Planned Impact

Scientific impact will be achieved through the use of advanced photonic processing to manufacture functional diamond devices, targeting key applications. The demonstration of device architectures that were previously impossible, providing enhanced functionality and performance will generate impact. Applications specifically outlined in the proposal include radiation detectors, defect arrays for quantum enhanced sensing and photonic devices.

I will additionally work with researchers in the UK and around the world to replicate the photonic system, which will enable proliferation of the technology and maximise impact. I am already actively pursuing this, by working with project partners University of Manchester to develop an advanced optical fabrication system purely for the manufacture of radiation detectors. This spread of the developed technology will aid those working in diamond science and other diverse disciplines, including biophotonics, metamaterials and medical technology.

There will be further scientific impact at a more fundamental level. This work is already pushing the boundaries of optical processing. The ability to induce single Angstrom level material modifications through fabrication with light at optical wavelengths is revolutionary. Furthermore, this probes the fundamental light matter interaction at high resolution, and can inform on material properties at the nanoscale.

Impact is also gained through collaboration. This fellowship will bring together UK scientists with a diverse skill set, and will use their expertise in new ways to solve difficult problems across a range of applications. International collaboration is specifically arranged to in crease the spread of ideas and technology.

Commercial impact from this work can be expected as the scientific impact gains recognition. I am already working with four separate companies on the application of laser processing for diamond devices. This can be expected to increase through the fellowship as the technology becomes more established. Key industrial links with Oxford Lasers Ltd and Element 6 are specifically included in the fellowship to aid the commercialisation of the technology.

The inherent appeal of diamond to the general public leads to many opportunities for outreach. As a member of the Early Career Outreach network at the University of Oxford, there are lots of opportunities to share ideas with members of the public and I will introduce ideas related to diamond technology. Further impact will hopefully be provided by helping to get more people across the UK interested in science and engineering.


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Description EPSRC Capital Award in Support of Early Career Researchers
Amount £34,312 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S017658/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 03/2020
Title Fluorescence calibration specimen 
Description This is a tool which is useful in the alignment and calibration of fluorescence microscopes, which are widely used for biological imaging. We use a laser fabrication process to accurately write fluorescent structures inside a plastic sample. This tool can save system time and improve the quantitative analysis of images. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This tool has been fabricated and delivered to numerous different research groups in the UK and abroad, who are using it for routine alignment and calibration of their microscopes. 
URL http://www.psfcheck.com
Description University of Exeter 
Organisation University of Exeter
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My team uses advanced laser fabrication techniques to manufacture devices for the calibration of fluorescence microscopes.
Collaborator Contribution The team of Alex Corbett at the University of Exeter carries out quality control analysis of the fabricated devices and organises distribution to interested parties.
Impact The partnership is multi-disciplinary, bringing together expertise in bioimaging and laser processing. The results of the collaboration have been presented at international conferences and in the following paper: 10.1364/OE.26.021887
Start Year 2017
Description University of Manchester 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My team at the University of Oxford uses advanced laser fabrication techniques to manufacture arrays of graphitic wires inside diamond substrates for use as detectors of high energy particles.
Collaborator Contribution The team at the University of Manchester provide designs for the devices and interfaces the laser written wires with read-out electronics. They also provide access to sources of high energy particles for device testing and analysis.
Impact The collaboration is multi-disciplinary, combining expertise in particle physics (Manchester) with laser manufacturing at Oxford. The collaboration has produced >5 prototype devices that have been tested. Results have been presented at international conferences and in 2 publications: 10.1016/j.diamond.2017.06.014 and 10.1016/j.nima.2016.04.052.
Start Year 2016
Description University of Warwick 
Organisation University of Warwick
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration is exploring the use of laser writing for fabrication of diamond devices for quantum technology. My team is engaged in the laser fabrication of nitrogen vacancy qubits inside the diamond.
Collaborator Contribution The laser written diamond devices are processed and analysed by the team at University of Warwick under the supervision of Dr Gavin Morley and Prof Mark Newton. The processing constitutes high temperature annealing while the analysis incorporates a range of fluorescence microscopy.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, combining laser fabrication expertise at Oxford with quantum technology expertise at Warwick.
Start Year 2017
Description Quantum Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We ran a stand at the UK National Quantum Technologies Showcase, where delegates could learn more about the laser writing technique applied to diamond quantum technology. Delegates were able to remotely control the laser fabrication system in Oxford to write their own quantum bit inside a piece of diamond. More than 100 qubits were successfully written. The event helped to raise awareness of the fabrication technique among the the UK industrial quantum community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://uknqt.epsrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/