Diamond on demand for new research opportunities

The ability to produce ultra high-purity diamond is set to benefit researchers, with a new research facility opening today. Cost and manufacturing difficulties mean that diamond film has not been...

The ability to produce ultra high-purity diamond is set to benefit researchers, with a new research facility opening today.

Cost and manufacturing difficulties mean that diamond film has not been widely available to the research community. That will change now Australia's largest nanotechnology hub, the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN), has opened its new Diamond Deposition Suite (DDS).

The Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP officially opened the facility, which grows high-purity synthetic diamond. The Minister inspected some of the latest research and development taking place at the Centre.

Dr Dwayne Kirk, Managing Director of the MCN, said custom-made diamond coatings offer a range of new opportunities for research and industry.

“Using diamonds to accelerate research is an exciting new development and we’re delighted that the most advanced facility of its kind will be based here in Melbourne. Australian researchers are already leading the way in using diamond coatings to enhance the bionic eye, said Dr Kirk.

“As well as medical bionics, the twin diamond production systems at MCN will extend the research and development possibilities for our industry partners in biosensor research, electronics, quantum information processing and manufacturing applications.”

Known for their remarkable properties, diamonds possess the highest heat conductivity and the greatest chemical and radiation resistance of any material.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne AC welcomed the Government’s continued support of Australian-led research.

“The investment in this instrument highlights Australia’s place on the world research stage. It’s very exciting that the future applications of synthetic diamonds from everything from medical bionics to quantum computing will happen right here in Melbourne,” Professor Byrne said.

The DDS works by using a continuous microwave source to heat hydrogen and carbon in the form of methane, until the atoms break down to become highly reactive plasma. By adding other gases to the plasma, diamond coating can be made to be either highly insulating or highly conductive.

Mr Pyne inspected some of the latest research and development activities taking place at the centre.

The Diamond Deposition Suite is the most advanced of its kind in Australia. With full operational support at the MCN, it is available to all Australian academic researchers and private industry. It is expected that the suite will further contribute to the integration of nanotechnology techniques into the R&D activities of Australia’s innovation and manufacturing economies.

The MCN is a purpose-built facility and operates as a joint venture between Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Swinburne University, Deakin University, La Trobe University, RMIT University and CSIRO.

The Diamond Deposition Suite is funded by the Australian Government under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure program and will join a portfolio of more than 500 instruments available through the Australian National Fabrication Facility.