Diamond is one of the most extraordinary materials known. For almost any physical property you can think of, diamond is top of the list. It is the hardest, strongest and stiffest known material, it conducts heat better than copper, is transparent from the deep ultraviolet to the far infrared, is resistant to acids and bases, and has one of the lowest thermal expansion coefficients. However, until recently diamond has only been available in the form of gemstones, obtained from mines. These are prized for jewellery, but have only limited engineering or scientific applications.
However, over the past 20 years, scientists have discovered how to produce thin films of pure diamond, using as a starting material nothing more exotic than methane and hydrogen gases. The extraordinary properties of diamond have already enabled such films to find applications as hard, wear-resistant coatings in engineering components and machine tools, as heat spreaders, and as specialised optical windows. The possibility of doping the films to produce semiconducting diamond, suggests exciting future applications for these materials as electronic devices and sensors. Furthermore, the unusual electron emission properties of diamond make it a candidate for the electrode in the next generation of flat panel displays, solar cells or even quantum computers.
In this talk, Professor Paul May, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, UK, will describe how CVD diamond films are produced and discuss some of the various current and proposed uses of these films. Professor May will concentrate on ‘device’-like applications, such as microplasma devices, field emission displays, thermionic emission solar power cells, bioimplants and brain-computer interfaces.
Professor Paul May
School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, BRISTOL, UK
Professor Paul May was promoted to Professor in the School of Chemistry at Bristol University (UK) in 2010. He held a Ramsay Memorial Fellowship (1992-4) and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (1994-9) prior to appointment to a Lectureship. He co-founded the Bristol CVD diamond group in 1991, which is now one of leading groups for diamond growth and research in the UK. Other relevant previous experience includes a PhD involving both experimental studies and modelling of reactive ion etching plasmas, and three years employment as a research scientist at GEC Hirst Research Centre in Wembley studying patterning and dry etching of semiconductors. He has published nearly 200 papers/articles in refereed Journals, 170 of which are on the subject of diamond/DLC films, has given invited and contributed talks at more than 50 international conferences. He is on the organising committee for the Hasselt Diamond workshop and this year is the Chair of the diamond symposium at the MRS Fall meeting in Boston. Professor May has written three books, one a collection of short science-fiction stories, and two popular science books, the latest of which is “Molecules that Amaze Us”.