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Girls New Best Friend: Synthetic Diamond

Mar 12, 2008
We all have heard about diamond, some of us might even own one. But how many of us have heard about "synthetic diamond". Its takes a long time for Mother Nature to create natural diamond from nothing more than carbon. But now with new technology man is able to synthesize diamond in labs. Synthetic diamond does not have the same properties as of a natural diamond. Its quality may be inferior, similar, or even superior according to the technology used to produce it. Since the cost to synthesize it artificially is much less than the cost to mine it, synthetic diamond is more and more used in industrial applications.

Throughout the world there are many attempts to make synthetic diamonds. The earlier attempts failed to produce diamonds. Some succeeded in producing diamond like structures. Even the closest one produced earlier had impurities in them, which renders them a yellow, brown, or blue color. This makes it in-comparable with the original colorless diamond.

Properties:

The crystalline of the synthetic diamond produced using new technologies varies. If we get single continuous diamonds, then they are used as gemstones. But if they have a polycrystalline structure then they are used for industrial applications like mining, cutting tools etc. Diamond is known for its hardness. But now the natural diamonds have a rival. Its new brother- the synthetic diamond-made using new technology like CVD-Chemical Vapor Deposition can be much harder than natural diamonds. Another useful feature of this new technology is that we can control the hardness of the diamond made. No crystal ever made or found is absolutely free of impurities. Same is the case with our synthetic diamond. Anything other than carbon in diamond is considered to be an impurity. But the good thing about this is that, if the impurity present is boron then diamond will have electrical conductivities, which gives us a chance to use it in the new technological applications.

Production Technologies:

There are mainly two new technologies used to produce synthetic carbon, HPHT- High Pressure, High Temperature and CVD- Chemical Vapor Deposition. The common technology used is HPHT, because of its reduced cost. It produces very high pressures using large presses and high temperatures simulating conditions similar to that causes the creation of diamond inside earth. The other technology-CVD, produce diamonds using plasma of carbon atoms and growing it on substrates. This produces pure diamonds but of very low sizes.

Uses and Application:

Diamond is widely used in cutting and mining tools, because of its hardness. They use it to break and grind other substances, while ensuring low wear and tear to their tools. In electronics, diamonds promises to bring new technologies to life. Sine diamond is made up of carbon, if its doped with impurities such as boron or phosphorus, it will have semi-conductor properties. Till today no transistor has been made using diamonds, but there are promising studies which enables us to embed microcircuits in diamonds, which then can work in hostile environment where ordinary silicon cant.
In the field of chemistry, diamond can be used as electrodes, because in certain cases all other alternatives will react with the subject under study. But diamonds made with new technology don't have this problem.

I donut have to mention the next use. If the synthetic diamond made using new technology has enough quality then it can be used as gem stones. Although new technologies, its very hard to produce to gem quality diamonds. The main problem is impurity, but now diamonds with slight nitrogen impurity produces a yellow tint, which is gaining popularity because of its low cost. The largest synthetic gem quality diamond ever made using new technology was 34 carat yellow stone.
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