Study on machinability of silicon irradiated by swift ions


Machining of hard and brittle materials has for a long time been a challenge owing to the unpredictability of the resultant product. Abrasive grinding followed by fine polishing has since been the safest technique of carrying out this task. In the recent past, diamond turning technique has been developed for ultra-precision machining. Awkwardly, even with this technique, it has still been difficult to maintain high efficiency and low surface damage simultaneously. Severe tool damage is also inescapable when using this diamond technique. On the other hand, recently undertaken studies have shown that ion implantation can be used to improve the machinability. Just the other day, researchers realized surface modification by nuclear collision cascade that induces phase transition during the implantation. Additionally, electronic interaction between the incident particles and the target material, such as ionization, also occurs particularly during a high-energy ion implantation. Unfortunately, the influence of ionization on the machinability has not been exhaustively studied.

Researchers led by professor Fengzhou Fang from the State Key Laboratory of Precision Measuring Technology & Instruments, Centre of MicroNano Manufacturing Technology, at Tianjin University in China, conducted a study to cross examine the modification on the nanocutting of silicon by high-energy oxygen ions. They performed Molecular dynamics simulation in order to reveal the nanocutting process on silicon with irradiation damages. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Precision Engineering.

The research method utilized commenced by conducting high energy irradiation using a tandem electrostatic accelerator to implant oxygen dose into the surface of the high resistivity monocrystalline silicon at room temperature. Next, the researchers employed Raman spectroscopy to investigate the modification on the material lattice. The team then conducted molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo method simulations so as to deeply study the material processes at nanoscale level where the Open Visualization Tool software was used for molecular dynamics data visualization.

The authors observed that the images of the depth profiles of ionization and vacancies for the O ion implantation showed the regions with intensive electronic process and nuclear collision to be well separated. The researchers also noted that the data obtained from molecular dynamics simulation revealed the nanocutting process on silicon with irradiation damages. Conclusively, the results obtained indicated that an enhancement in the critical underformed chip thickness, which is crucial in machining of brittle materials.

The Fengzhou Fang and his research team study successfully presented the utilization of high-energy ion irradiation on silicon in studying the modification on the machinability by ionization. It has been seen that during ion implantation, local amorphous pockets occur. Furthermore, molecular dynamics analysis has pointed out that the lattice damages absorb the shear strain energy in nanocutting. As a consequence, more shear bands are generated and plastic yielding becomes easier in the stress field of the machine tool. Altogether, this new technique offers improved machinability that yields high efficiency and low surface damage.

Study on machinability of silicon irradiated by swift ions, Advances in Engineering

About the author

Professor Fengzhou Fang has over 30 years of experience in working in manufacturing science and technology, whose specialist areas of interest include optical freeform design and manufacturing, micro/nano manufacturing, medical device/implants manufacturing, ultra-precision manufacturing and metrology. Amongst the applications areas are in aspheric and freeform optical systems, medical devices, bio-medical implants, aerospace and engineering components. Dr. Fang has worked with over hundred industrial partners assisting companies to develop their R&D activities.

He has published over 200 papers in peer reviewed journals, along with 12 book chapters, as well as over 50 patents. He has delivered more than 90 keynote speeches and invited presentation in international conferences in manufacturing.

He is the Founding President of the International Society for Nanomanufacturing (ISNM) and the editor-in-chief of Nanomanufacturing and Metrology (N&M). He is a Fellow of ISNM, Fellow of the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP), and Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

About the author

Jinshi Wang is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre of Micro/Nano Manufacturing Technology (MNMT), Tianjin University, China. He received his bachelor degree in Measuring and Controlling Technologies and Instruments (2012) and master degree in Precision Instrument and Mechanism (2015) from Tianjin University.

His research interest is ultra-precision machining, including nano-cutting mechanism, surface modification and process simulation using molecular dynamics. He also studies the ultrasonic vibration assisted diamond cutting of steel, optical glass and superhard alloys. His research aim is to develop methods for difficult-to-machine material to achieve a high surface integrity with nanometric roughness and low material damage.

About the author

Dr. Xiaodong Zhang focuses his research interests on manufacturing of freeform optics since he became a postdoctoral research fellow in 2007. From then on, he is the head of ‘Ultra-precision machining and freeform optics manufacture’ group in the Centre of Micro/Nano Manufacturing Technology (MNMT) in Tianjin University. He has published more than 60 papers in journals and conference proceedings.

His research work is funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and State Key Development Program of Basic Research of China. He also has finished dozens of projects about the complex optical surface manufacture from companies and research institutions.


Jinshi Wang, Rongtai Chen, Xiaodong Zhang, Fengzhou Fang. Study on machinability of silicon irradiated by swift ions. Precision Engineering, volume 51 (2018) pages 577–581.

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