Plasma Surface Engineering @ ALPS

Nano Crystalline Diamond


Nano Crystallline Diamond thin film deposition on low temperature substrates using microwave assisted Chemical Vapour Deposition for improved mechanical surface properties of tools, car and watch components.


Nano crystalline diamond exhibits extreme hardness and low friction. These properties can be used to increase the service life time of tools, wathchparts etc. However, new low termperature deposition techniques are needed.


An innovative 3D conformal low temperature nano diamond thin film deposition process will be developed. Plasma diagnosis will be used to optimize the deposition process and nano-mechanical testing procedure employed to assess the mechanical film properties. Combinatorial lateral gradient thin films technology will be developed and employed for interface design. Solid-state µ-wave generators will be used for up-scaling using independent control of multiple microwave sources.


Only 6 months after project start, Nano Crystalline Diamond has been deposited on substrates at temperatures below 400 °C. The NCD quality has been confirmed by Raman, SEM, TEM and AFM. The thin films show the typicall NCD coliflour structure and very low surface roughness of a few nanometers. The film growth rate has been increase from 5 to 20 nm per hour. We currently work on improving the film adhesion. Work in progress....

Plasma CVD using Hi-Wave sources in matrix arrangement

SEM image of diamond grains

TEM Image


Following first promising resutls we are confident to allow NeoCoat to enter new areas in the diamond market in particular for applications where the mecanical properties of diamond are important: tools, car and watch parts, med tech.


CTI 16867.2PFNM-MN


 NeoCoat SA, La Chaux de Fonds, CH

EMPA, Laboratory for Mechanics of Materials and Nanostructures, Thun, CH