Diamonds make faster phones

Research led by the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory could lead to nanoscale diamonds being used in mobile phones to allow them to operate at a much higher frequency.


The $1,400,000, 12-month, DARPA Phase II research and development programme is to develop a new technology based on Ultrananocrystalline DiamondTM (UNCDTM). The material, developed at Argonne, will enable diamond resonators and oscillators to be directly integrated with microelectronic chips for next-generation telecommunication devices.


DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) is funding the work for advanced telecommunications systems to be used in both military and civilian applications. These devices will be fully integrated with silicon microchips to enable a new generation of high performance portable communication systems. Eventually the fruits of this project could result in enabling a variety of mobile technologies with much higher data communication rates.


As diamond is both stiff and light, it can be used to produce tuning fork devices, tiny diving board-like structures which oscillate at high frequencies to receive and transmit signals. These vibrate at frequencies higher than similar devices of the same dimensions made of other materials, up to 100,000,000,000 times per second for diamond tuning folks that are around 100 nanometres in size.


Such high frequency structures can be used as key electrical elements in mobile phones, enabling them to operate at much higher frequencies. The challenge is to manufacture diamond tuning forks reliably and affordably enough for them to be widely adopted in broadband communication devices.