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UNCD Wafers Data Sheet

UNCD Wafers Data Sheet

Technology FAQs

What is UNCD®?

UNCD (ultrananocrystalline diamond) captures many of the best properties of natural diamond in a scalable thin film technology enabling diamond to be integrated into a wide range of products. UNCD encompasses a proprietary family of materials manufactured using patented chemical vapor deposition processes. UNCD coatings are not diamond-like carbon films, but phase-pure crystalline diamond materials.

What are the typical growth temperatures for UNCD films?

600-800 °C. New processes are under development enabling the deposition of UNCD films at temperatures as low as 400 °C.

How thin/thick can a UNCD film be deposited?

UNCD films can be as thin as 100 nanometers (nm) or as thick as 20 microns (µm). The standard UNCD thickness on DoSi™ (diamond on silicon) and DOI™ (diamond on insulator) Wafers are 300 nm and 1 µm.

On what materials can UNCD be deposited?

UNCD is routinely deposited on silicon, SiO2, W, Mo, TiAl4V6, and alpha “self-sintered” (binderless) SiC as well as Ta and Si3N4. Materials that readily form carbides tend to make the best substrates. Please contact us to inquire about additional materials.

On how large of an area can UNCD be deposited?

UNCD is routinely deposited on silicon wafers up to 200 mm in diameter and can be processed on substrates with complex geometries, including large pump seal faces.

Can UNCD protect the substrate material from chemical attack or oxidation?

Yes. Continuous pin-free films can be grown to render the substrate impervious to chemical attack from strong acid solutions such as HF and HNO3.

How smooth are the UNCD films?

UNCD films are typically very smooth as deposited on silicon (Si) wafers, because standard Si wafers are nanometer-level smooth. For instance, UNCD Aqua 25 films have RMS roughness values around 10 nm on standard Si wafers. The roughness of the film depends on a number of factors: the roughness of the substrate, the thickness of the UNCD layer and the chosen UNCD product.

How is UNCD different than diamond-like carbon (DLC)?

UNCD consists of small phase-pure diamond grains. UNCD is crystalline diamond. DLCs are amorphous materials consisting of carbon bonded locally with a combination of sp3 (diamond) and sp2 (graphitic) hybridized bonding.

How do I integrate UNCD into a MEMS process?

The UNCD technology is appropriate for integration into a foundry environment. After deposition, UNCD may be etched using a number of hard mask materials (e.g., SiO2, Aluminum, or photo resist) using oxygen-based reactive ion etching (RIE). SiO2 works very well as a sacrificial layer with nearly 100% differential etch rates between diamond and SiO2 during the O2 RIE process. Ohmic contacts can be formed using W/Cr stacks and almost any metal deposited on the UNCD surface. Please contact ADT for more details in how to integrate UNCD into your MEMS process.

What is the thermal conductivity of UNCD?

The thermal conductivity of UNCD can be tuned. In the Aqua family of UNCD products, Aqua 100 is the best thermal conductor due to its large average grain sizes, whereas Aqua 25 is a poor thermal conductor due to its small grain sizes. Aqua 25 films in the 1-10 micron thickness range have demonstrated values as low as 10-20 W/mK.

How would my MEMS device benefit from UNCD?

Most MEMS/NEMS devices currently under development are mainly based on silicon because of the available surface machining technology adapted from the silicon-based microelectronics batch fabrication technology. However, compared to diamond, silicon has:

  • relatively poor mechanical (low Young’s modulus of 130 GPa, low hardness of 1,000 kg/mm2, and fracture strength of 1.3 GPa)
  • poor tribological properties (high adhesion energy or stiction of 106 mJ/m2)

For an application like RF MEMS, diamond has a combination of bulk properties that are extremely attractive for such an application:

  • high acoustic velocity
  • low dissipation
  • low temperature coefficient of frequency
  • low charge-trap dielectric
  • linear electromechanical response
  • lower sensitivity to environmental conditions, including:
    • low adhesion energy
    • resistance to tribo-electrical foiling in active electrical contacts

What MEMS products have been built with UNCD?

RF MEMS Resonator

RF MEMS Resonator
This UNCD MEMS resonator was made from ADT’s DoSi (Diamond on Silicon) wafers. Photo courtesy of Innovative Micro Technology (IMT), Santa Barbara, CA

RF MEMS Resonator

RF MEMS Switch
In collaboration with MEMtronics Corporation, this RF MEMS Switch was fabricated using UNCD Aqua 25 as the low-trap dielectric (i.e., the green area in the center of the switch). This switch achieved 1 billion cycles in dry air.

RF MEMS Resonator

AFM Probes
NaDiaProbes™ bring the power of diamond to AFM cantilevers. NaDiaProbes are made entirely of UNCD (both the tip and cantilever) in a single monolithic process. These are not diamond-coated probes; they are entirely made out of diamond and demonstrate the astonishing control and precision that is available with diamond machines.

RF MEMS Resonator

Molded 3D MEMS Structures
The award-winning UNCD technology has been molded into complex 3D MEMS structures, such as the tip array shown to the left, and deposited onto processed MEMS wafers.

Which UNCD product is right for my application?

UNCD captures, in a thin film, many of the extreme properties of diamond: hardness, Young’s modulus, heat conductivity, low friction, electronic field emission, and many others. In addition, UNCD can be tuned to be conductive or insulating, IR or visibly transparent and low friction with a smooth or a rougher surface. Because of this ability to engineer diamond, UNCD can solve many MEMS issues. All varieties of UNCD are available on DoSi and DOI wafers.

Depending on your application, ADT has the right thin diamond for your needs, available through our Aqua family of UNCD products:

UNCD Solution
High Thermal Conductivity

Heat spreader

Thermal Management

Diamond has the highest thermal conductivity of any material. For extreme heat transfer Aqua 100 will meet your thermal transport needs. Aqua 100 has large grains of diamond (200-300 nm on average) and deposits with an RMS of < 100 nm RMS.

If you need heat transfer capabilities and a very smooth surface, try Aqua 50. While retaining many of the heat transfer qualities of bulk diamond, smaller grain sizes enable a mirror-smooth finish (RMS < 50 nm).

Optical Transparency

Wear resistance optical coatings

Windows of diamond thin film

For photonic applications that need transparency in the visible spectrum, try Aqua 100, as its large grains mimic bulk diamond best in a thin film. If you need transparency in the IR, try our Aqua 100 DOI wafers. DOI wafers provide diamond on SiO2 on a Si substrate, which can be reactive ion etched to create windows of diamond and SiO2.
Low friction and wear resistance

Mechanical seals


All of the UNCD products mimic the low coefficient of friction of diamond, so you might choose your variety of UNCD partnered with another attractive property. Aqua 50 is optimized specifically to provide the best wear resistance for demanding wear applications.
Corrosion resistance

Electrochemical electrodes

Food & pharmaceutical processing

All of the UNCD products are phase-pure diamond grains and are thus as inert as carbon and resistant to corrosion and harsh environments. For a pinhole-free thin diamond smooth film, use Aqua 25. Although geometries will affect capability, on a standard Si wafer, Aqua 25’s small grain sizes allow for pinhole-free films as thin as 400 nm.
Mirror-smooth surface

Low stiction coatings, MEMS

AFM Probes, RF electronics

For the smoothest surface with all the benefits of diamond, use Aqua 25. Its grain sizes between 3- 10 nm result in smooth films, with an RMS of less than 15 nm.

Orthopedic implants

Implantable biosensors

All of the UNCD products are phase-pure diamond grains, and are thus as inert as carbon and resistant to corrosion and harsh environments. For a pinhole-free thin diamond smooth film, use Aqua 25. Although geometries will affect capability, on a standard Si wafer, Aqua 25’s small grain sizes allow for pinhole-free films as thin as 400 nm.

Field Emission

Cold Cathode Emission

Cold cathode devices

Field-emitter arrays

UNCD has been investigated for years for application to field emission sources. UNCD films consistently exhibit very low threshold fields for field electron emission. In addition, the field electron emission is very stable even when the surface is exposed to 10-4 Torr of oxygen or hydrogen. Emission currents as high as 100 µA from a single UNCD-coated silicon microtip have been observed. (Krauss, 2001, Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 89, Number 5, Page 2958). Emission currents as high as 1 mA have been achieved from conformally-coated arrays of silicon microtips. All UNCD varieties are available now, on both Si and SiO2, for testing with your emission applications.

Low stiction

Minimal wafer bow, Low stress


Other wafer-scale products

Thick films, by nature, are high-stress with their substrate, but all UNCD products deposit as a thin diamond film, which reduces stress and wafer bow.
Foundry compatibility Mass production of MEMS All UNCD varieties are now offered on 200 mm wafers for direct integration into a MEMS foundry process.
Electrical conduction

Conducting AFM probes

Electrochemical electrodes

Electronics (high power, high temperature)

Diamond is unique as a material because it is extremely heat conductive, yet (due to its wide band gap of 5.5 eV) effectively an electronic insulator. However, UNCD can be tuned, both through its use of grain boundaries and dopants, to be conductive.

A series of conductive UNCD products is planned. By altering the deposition process, the electrical conductivity of UNCD films can be changed over eight orders of magnitude. UNCD films in development have exhibited the highest N-type conductivity reported for a phase-pure diamond film and are more conductive than any doped microcrystalline diamond film or diamond-like carbon film.

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