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UNL-French Connection

Creates New Composite


Thermal-conducting superstars diamond and copper would make a great team to cool increasingly powerful and heat-generating electronics. An international collaboration between UNL engineers and French researchers has created a diamond-copper composite material that maintains characteristics of both.

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Diamonds are exceptionally hard and corrosion resistant. Yongfeng Lu, Lott Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering, has developed a technique using lasers to grow nano-thin films of diamond particles. It is less expensive than current methods. But diamonds also are brittle and difficult to mold.

Materials scientist Jean-François Silvain of the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry at the University of Bordeaux, France, has developed a technique to mold copper, similar to that used for making ceramic pottery.

Together, the two researchers and colleagues developed a method to join copper and diamond particles into a composite material that is both rugged and flexible, as well as thermally conductive.

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“The diversity in ideas, diversity in culture gives us many more angles to figure out the whole picture much more effectively.”
–Yongfeng Lu

Yongfeng Lu and Thomas Guillemet

“The diversity in ideas, diversity in culture gives us many more angles to figure out the whole picture much more effectively,” Lu said.

Thomas Guillemet, the first student in a joint program between the two universities, was the bridge.

“We made this material bind together, which for diamond and copper is very difficult because they don’t like each other very much,” said Guillemet, who graduated with doctorates from both universities in August 2013.

The French student learned techniques that he passed along to colleagues at each location. “It was an amazing experience for me,” he said. “In addition to a scientific and professional aspect, the human enrichment is very strong in this program.”

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Guillemet’s mastery of English and American culture will help him land employment in either the U.S. or Europe.

He also can point to the diamond-copper composite material he helped develop, which may help strengthen electronics subjected to harsh conditions like those found in airplanes and military equipment or vehicles.

UNL and the University of Bordeaux are recruiting additional students from both countries to participate in the joint program.