Microfabricated elastic diamonds improve material’s electronic properties

Overcoming a key obstacle in achieving diamond-based electronic and optoelectronic devices, researchers have presented a new way to fabricate micrometer-sized diamonds that can elastically stretch. Elastic diamonds could pave the way for advanced electronics, including semiconductors and quantum information technologies. In addition to being the hardest materials in nature, diamonds have exceptional electronic and photonic properties, featuring both ultrahigh thermal and electric conductivity. Not only would diamond-based electronics dissipate heat more quickly, reducing the need for cooling, they can handle high voltages and do so with greater efficiency than most other materials. Because of a diamond’s rigid crystalline structure, practical use of the material in electronic devices has remained a limiting challenge. Subjecting diamond to large amounts of strain, which should alter the material’s electronic properties, is one way to potentially overcome these obstacles. However, precisely controlling the strain across amounts of diamond needed for device applications has yet to be fully achieved. Here, Chaoqun Dang and colleagues present an approach for engineering diamond that exhibits uniform elastic strain. In a series of experiments, Dang et al. show how their microfabricated, micrometer-sized, single-crystalline diamond plates can elastically stretch – upwards of 10% – along several different crystallographic directions at room temperature. They could recover their length and shape, following these experiments. What’s more, the authors show that this highly controllable elasticity can fundamentally change the diamond’s electronic properties, including a near 2 electron volt bandgap reduction.

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