Chip-free surface patterning of toxic brittle polycrystalline materials through micro/nanoscale burnishing

Weihai Huang, Jiwang Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Brittle crystalline materials have important applications in optics and optoelectronics. However, their powders are highly toxic; thus, the chips generated in material removal processes such as cutting, grinding, and polishing are harmful to human health and the environment. In this study, micro/nanoscale burnishing tests were conducted on polycrystalline zinc selenide (p-ZnSe) to explore the feasibility of high-precision surface patterning of a toxic material by local plastic deformation without chip generation. The local deformation behaviours and subsurface damage formation mechanisms were investigated under dry and oil-lubricated conditions. Two types of cracks occurred when the force exceeded a critical value: cracks along the slip planes at the groove bottom and cracks along the cleavage planes at the groove edge. Below the critical force value, however, a crack-free surface was obtained with lower surface roughness than those for diamond-turned surfaces. No phase transformation was detected after burnishing, but lattice distortion appeared in the subsurface layer. A model was developed to predict the activated slip planes by calculating the maximum Schmid factors of the slip systems, and the distribution of subsurface defects was clarified by cross-sectional direct observations. It was also found that the use of a lubricating oil could greatly reduce material pile-ups around the tool. As test pieces, microgrid patterns were fabricated by crossing and overlapping the grooves, and smooth surfaces with surface roughness of 1.85 nm Sa and 4.5 nm Sa, respectively, were achieved. The findings from this study demonstrate the feasibility of chip-free surface patterning on toxic brittle polycrystalline materials by micro/nanoscale burnishing, which is an effective alternative to cutting and grinding for the fabrication of micro structured optical elements and microfluidics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103688
JournalInternational Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar


  • Burnishing
  • Micro/nano machining
  • Poly crystal
  • Soft brittle material
  • Subsurface damage
  • Surface patterning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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