GOALI - Collaborative Research: Fundamental Study and Pragmatic Enhancement of Rock Cutting/Drilling for Oil Exploration through Embedded Thin Film Sensor Arrays in Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) Inserts

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal seeks to: (a) establish the scientific and technological foundation for the measurement of temperatures and forces in the immediate vicinity of the PCD insert-rock contact zone with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution, (b) use this capability to verify enhanced analytical and FEM-based numerical models for the prediction of these variables and (c) develop novel process control schemes. The envisioned sensing capability will be realized by embedding micro-scale thin film thermo-mechanical sensor arrays into PCD inserts. The embedded arrays will be able to obtain thermo-mechanical data with a high spatial and high temporal resolution at and near the insert-rock interface in bandwidths higher than 100 kHz. Three highly interrelated tasks are planned: Task 1 focuses on the design, fabrication, and embedding, through diffusion bonding, of thin film micro-sensors, investigation of the atomic interactions between the sensor thin film system and PCD during embedding and the sensor’s static and dynamic characterization and calibration. Task 2 focuses on the development of a baseline analytical and of a FEM model of rock cutting force and insert temperature prediction. Comprehensive model evaluations and the assessment of the embedded sensor characteristics is an additional aspect of this task. Finally, Task 3 will be devoted to the formulation and implementation of rock cutting process monitoring and control methods. A comprehensive technology-capability evaluation will be performed under simulated industrially validated drilling/cutting conditions to assess the pragmatic aspects of the technology. The proposing research team has extensive experience and complementary expertise in the proposed research areas along with a track-record of past and ongoing collaborations. Broader Impact: Viewing the proposed program in its entirety, it’s most consequential impact will be the creation of a fundamental scientific and technological base for enhanced oil- and gas-exploration capabilities and the opening up of avenues for the emergence of innovative sensing and process monitoring/control technologies. The developed principles will also provide a platform for the further migration/spillover of embedded micro-sensor technologies into other areas of advanced manufacturing providing, thereby, as of yet, unavailable tools for enhancing fundamental process understanding and process implementation. The collaborative experiences between Northwestern University (NU), University of Wisconsin (UW) and Diamond Innovations (DI), will allow us to cultivate a unique graduate student research and education infrastructure and exchange program so that our graduates will possess qualities and have gained experiences that transcend the normal MS and Ph.D. experience.
Effective start/end date4/15/133/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (CMMI-1301127)


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