UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
The proposed research is directed at developing a manufacturing process for making ultra-sharp bulk metallic glass surgical knife blades as a high-performance low-cost alternative to single-crystal diamond blades. The work will involve developing a novel thermally-assisted magnetic field-based micro-drawing process for sharpening cutting edges to a radius of 20 - 50 nm. This process involves heating a cutting edge with a laser in order to temporary render it more ductile and simultaneously applying a high-intensity magnetic field to pull the heated material. Localized drawing is expected to produce an extremely sharp and durable bulk metallic glass cutting edge.
Successful development of the novel sharpening process has the potential to have an extremely broad-based impact. For example, it could enable manufacture of nano-probes for applications including DNA manipulation and manufacture of arrays of sharp features for dip pen lithography. Understanding of the process may also enable derivative processes such as micro joining via localized heating and deformation of micro-parts in a magnetic field. Additionally, under the proposed project, students will receive training on a broad range of topics in the rapidly emerging field of micro-scale manufacturing. Education of the general public will be addressed by participating in outreach activities such as the University of Illinois Engineering Open House program.