Man Made Diamond Applications
Diamonds, due to their brilliance, luster and durability, have long held the top of the jewelry market. Additionally, due to diamond’s hardness, stability and thermal conductivity, the gems have found a place in the world of technology. Used in saws and other hard-edged cutting tools, in machining other tools such as those used in the automotive industry, and in the medical field of lasers, diamonds are hardworking gems.
Diamonds are also rare, hard to mine and expensive. This is where man made diamonds come in. Molecularly identical to the diamond, man made diamonds contain all the same properties, and as such can be utilized in technology, too. Man made diamond applications, due to the lower cost, and ability to “grow” to specifications, may even surpass those for naturally occurring diamonds.
Man made diamond applications exist as useful electrodes. Diamonds can detect redox (reduction/oxidation) reactions that normally can’t be studied, and in some cases degrade redox-reactive organic contaminants in water supplies. Since a diamond is basically inert, it can be used as an electrode under conditionals that would destroy traditional electrodes.
Radiation detection device also falls under the heading of man made diamond applications. With a density similar to that of soft tissue, diamond is radiation hard and has a wide bandgap. These qualities suggest it has potential to be an excellent radiation detection device, and it has already been employed in some quantum physics experiments regarding matter/anti-matter particles.
Man made diamond applications include use as semiconductor. Diamonds are normally conductive, but in the creation process, boron and phosphorus can be added to turn the diamonds into n-type or p-type semiconductors.
Diamond transistors are inert to chemical and radioactive damage, and can withstand much higher temperatures than silicon. Though yet to be incorporated into the electronics industry, the man made diamonds show promise for exceptional power and for use in hostile environments.
The original method of creating man made diamonds is high pressure, high temperature (HPHT), still used because of its low cost. First used in 1955 by General Electric, HPHT uses large presses that can weigh tons produce a pressure of 5 GPa (giga pascals) at 1,500 degrees Celsius to reproduce the conditions that create natural diamond inside the Earth. The results of HPHT diamond creation, are small, non-gem worthy chips and dust, usually in a polycrystalline structure (unlike naturally occurring diamonds which are single crystals).
PC diamonds (PCD) have long been used in machining tools, especially when machining non-ferrous alloys. Micron sized diamond bits are embedded in a metal matrix (usually cobalt), hardening it, then applying it to the tool. Large PCD drills are often used in drilling for oil, but the primary use for PCD tools is machining aluminum for the automobile industry, which uses a number of aluminum alloys that produce extreme wear on tools. Diamond is the only cost-efficient way of machining these alloys.
Man made diamond applications are limited only to the applications of technology itself. Scientists, growing diamonds via chemical vapor deposition (CVD), can cut them into wafer shapes required for use in technological products. As mentioned above, the conductivity can be enhanced for use in complex electronics. As the process of growing diamonds is improved, so will man made diamond applications.
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