Creating a Near Perfect Flat Surface: Difficult but Possible

In summary, achieving a near perfect flat surface with a roughness of 1-10 nm at any point is possible, but difficult and requires a substantial investment. The surface of carbon face seals and samples made by the Mcnally Institute have a flatness and parallelism of less than 100nm over an area of 10 sq. mm. The polishing process is material specific and can be done by hand with the assistance of a polishing jig. The purpose of such a low tolerance is for fundamental research on quantum transport phenomena in materials like Gallium Arsenide.
  • #1
sid_galt
502
1
Is it possible to get a near perfect flat surface with the roughness no more than 1-10 nm at any point?

If it is, then how difficult is it?
 
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  • #2
The surface of carbon face seals are extremely flat with incredibly smooth surface finishes. The flatness callouts I am used to seeing are .000035" or about three helium light bands. That is about the best I have ever seen. I think you'd be running into macroscopic troubles when talking about surfaces in terms of nanometers.

Here is a reference for you on the topic in regards to sealing surfaces and pumps:
http://www.mcnallyinstitute.com/Charts/flatness_readings.html

For those interested, The Mcnally Institute website has some fantastic information regarding pumps and seals. It is a very valuable resource!
 
  • #3
We routinely make samples that have a flatness and parallelism of less than 100nm over an area of about 10 sq. mm. The polishing process is both tricky and painful (in addition to being material specific), and getting a better flatness would require a substantially greater monetary investment.

What material are you working with, and what is the size of the active area that you want flat ? And what's your budget ?
 
  • #4
Gokul43201 said:
What material are you working with, and what is the size of the active area that you want flat ? And what's your budget ?

I am not working on any material. I was just curious.
 
  • #5
Gokul43201 said:
We routinely make samples that have a flatness and parallelism of less than 100nm over an area of about 10 sq. mm.

What componds do you polish with? Is this by hand? What is the purpose of the flatness/finish tolerance being so darned low (applications)?
 
  • #6
The polishing is done in several stages, mostly by hand, with the assistance of a polishing jig. The polishing compound is very specific to the material that we are polishing - Gallium Arsenide. Why do we need this low a tolerance ? Because we measure quantum transport phenomena in GaAs quantum well structures where the well spacing in just few tens of nanometers. This is fundamental research and has no applications as of now.
 

Related to Creating a Near Perfect Flat Surface: Difficult but Possible

1. How difficult is it to create a near perfect flat surface?

Creating a near perfect flat surface can be very difficult, as it requires precision and attention to detail. Even a slight imperfection can affect the overall flatness of the surface.

2. What are the most common methods for creating a near perfect flat surface?

The most common methods for creating a near perfect flat surface include milling, grinding, lapping, and polishing. These methods involve removing material from the surface to achieve the desired flatness.

3. What are some challenges that may arise when trying to create a near perfect flat surface?

Some challenges that may arise include maintaining a consistent pressure and speed during the process, avoiding vibration or external forces that could affect the flatness, and ensuring the surface is free of debris or contaminants.

4. Can a computer or machine achieve a near perfect flat surface?

Yes, with the use of advanced technology and precise measurements, computers and machines can achieve a near perfect flat surface. However, human supervision and adjustments may still be necessary to ensure the best results.

5. What industries or applications require near perfect flat surfaces?

Near perfect flat surfaces are crucial in industries such as semiconductor manufacturing, optics, aerospace, and precision engineering. They are also important for applications such as mirrors, lenses, and electronic components.

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