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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