Single crystal sapphire is of significant interest due to its combination of excellent optical, electrical, and mechanical properties. However, fine grinding of sapphire is quite challenging because of its high hardness and low fracture toughness, making it sensitive to cracking. Wheel loading is a common problem in conventional grinding of hard and brittle materials. ELID grinding shows great promise in achieving a mirror surface finish at a relatively high efficiency. ELID grinding of sapphire was investigated using acoustic emission. The effects of processing parameters on surface finish and acoustic emission signals were evaluated. Correlations were found among the dressing current intensity, surface finish and acoustic emission signals. A smoother surface was obtained using a higher dressing current at the cost of a higher wheel wear rate. The wheel wear mechanism in ELID grinding of sapphire was dominated by bond fracture because the bond strength is reduced by electrolysis. Results indicate that the acoustic emission technique has the potential to be used for monitoring ELID grinding process, detecting the condition of the grinding wheel, and investigating the mechanisms of ELID grinding.

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