WARF: P02041US

Micro-Electro-Discharge Machining Using Semiconductor Electrodes


Yogesh Gianchandani, Kenichi Takahata

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing micromachined silicon electrode arrays for use in micro-electro-discharge machining of various materials, including metals.
OVERVIEWMicro-electro-discharge machining (micro-EDM) is a micromachining technique well suited to cutting electrically conductive materials, such as steel, graphite or silicon. However, because it is a serial process involving a single wire electrode, conventional micro-EDM is slow, limiting its usefulness in high throughput applications. Use of a single electrode also hampers the technique’s precision because the electrodes themselves are fabricated by another micro-EDM method that can cause variation in electrode shape.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed micromachined silicon electrode arrays for use in micro-electro-discharge machining of various materials, including metals. An array of multiple electrodes is fabricated in a single-crystal silicon wafer by using wet or dry anisotropic etching, doped to provide electrical conductivity, and optionally metal-coated to increase both conductivity and wear resistance. The silicon electrode array is consumed during use and disposed of after a single application; however, the low cost of producing the array and its capacity to provide “cookie cutter” micromachining of many parts simultaneously makes this technology an efficient and low cost alternative to conventional, serial micro-EDM.
  • High throughput micromachining of electrically conductive materials
  • Unlike conventional micro-EDM, silicon electrode arrays will facilitate efficient, high throughput micromachining of various materials, including metals.
  • Batch, as opposed to serial, processing by silicon array micro-EDM allows more precise micromachining of multiple parts.
  • Well suited to the micromachining of metals, such as brass, which are difficult to etch using standard lithography
  • Arrays can be formed by conventional semiconductor techniques in high yield and at low cost.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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