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August 2016

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Diamonds in Other Industries: Not What You Think

There was a time when diamonds were used just as jewelry and fancy adornments, for a touch of glamour, prestige and shine. Today, diamonds are giving the fields of mathematics and science a chic new makeover. With the advance of research into the properties of diamonds, the use of diamonds in other industries has become more prevalent. Being more affordable, synthetic diamonds has made the use of diamonds in other fields more feasible than ever before. The diverse properties found in diamonds, including low acoustic absorption, high electromechanical coupling coefficient and a high speed of sound, make them useful for different types of research.

The Science of Diamonds

In the future, diamond crystal-based structures may be used as high sensitivity sensors to detect pressure, acceleration, temperature, and the thickness of ultra-thin films. Experts hope that using diamonds in acoustics and electronics, as well as using diamonds in other industries, can lead to exciting discoveries within those fields that were never previously possible.

And just as diamonds are helpful in creating new discoveries in science, science is helpful in creating new diamonds. Specialized diamond crystals are created in a lab using a chemical process. In this process, the chemical vapor deposition uses a tiny flat “seed” diamond as the basis for a new diamond. New diamond material is then deposited on top of the seed, layer by layer, until a larger diamond is formed. The larger diamond is then sold to labs and companies to be used in the creation of semiconductors. Current semiconductors, which use a silicon base are fine for smaller electronics, but have faced thermal conduction problems in new, more sophisticated electronic devices. Combining the silicon with diamond has solved this problem.

The Hidden Diamond of the Electronics Market

The electronics market continuously expands as technology becomes more and more dominant in today’s culture. Whether in the workplace, across multiple industries, or for leisure, in personal computers, mobile phones, tablets, wearables and more, electronics is a booming industry. Currently, electronic devices are possible thanks to controlling the movement of electrons from place to place, using electronic fields that are strong, fast and local. Yet it is difficult to find materials that have an electronic field which mimics the effects of a magnetic field, in order to control spin while still working at room temperature.

In an effort to solve this problem, researchers created magnetic micro-disks containing no north or south poles, but instead magnetize into a vortex. Diamond nano-particles are used inside the vortex, which then traps individual spins inside defects found within the diamonds called nitrogen vacancies.

The Grand Scope

The use of diamonds in other industries is continually growing. Previously diamonds were an ineffective tool for cutting steel due to their reaction with iron, from which steel is made. However, new research has found that the combination of diamond with cubic boron nitride crystals, a man made material which is considered the second strongest substance after diamonds, can create a unique machining tool that will be viable for use on substances containing iron. Diamonds have also long been used in a variety of other fields, such as construction, machinery and dentistry.

As research develops and understanding of science in technology improves, the need and variety of uses for diamonds will also increase. And thanks to new methods of synthetic diamond creation, their availability is greater, and price is lower. As we move into the future, it is highly likely that we will notice a greater use of diamonds in other industries far beyond the realms of the fashion runways and the romantic proposals of yesteryear.

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