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Diamonds And The Computer Industry

Aug 18, 2007
The first wave of gem-quality manufactured diamonds hit the market late in 2003. Man-made diamonds is nothing new and the technology has been available since the mid 19th century. Small diamond crystals were created for industrial purposes such as grinding wheels, drill bits and saw blades. What is new is that a Florida based company can now produce rough 3-carat gem-quality diamonds 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at a cost of less than $100 dollars.

Companies like the Gemesis, Apollo Diamond and others are producing quality diamonds and yet the price of the man-made or cultured diamonds are only about 15 percent less than mined diamonds. Gemesis and Apollo Diamond companies are using diamond jewelry business to finance their entry into the semiconductor industry, which is where the real money is.

As computer chips get faster and smaller they run hotter and hotter. Microprocessor chips can generate up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If they get much hotter the silicon will simply turn into a puddle. Diamonds can solve this problem because they can stand much higher temperatures than silicon.

Several things must happen before diamonds are going to be used as semiconductors. The first is the cost must come down. With Gemesis reporting in 2003 that the cost of producing a 3-carat diamond was about $100 and Apollo Diamond Company reporting cost of about $5 per carat the first obstacle appears to have been overcome.

A large volume of cheap diamonds is needed. You cannot rely on a steady supply mined diamonds. Since De Beers Diamond Trading Company has monopolized the diamond business for over 115 years by forcing out rivals and by controlling the supply of available diamonds the ability to manufacture diamonds is the answer.

Each diamond must have the same electrical properties and the next. Diamonds are naturally insulators (they do not conduct electricity) and to become semiconductors for the computer industry they must be able to conduct both a negative and positive charge. Scientists have found that if boron in included during the lattice formation of a diamond it will be able to conduct a positive charge. Recently both Israel and France has announced a major breakthrough in manufacturing a negatively charged diamond. Boron is a substance that will also give a diamond a bluish coloration.

Intel uses large silicone wafers that are 1 foot in diameter (slightly over 300 millimeters) for their semiconductor manufacturing process. As of 2003 the Apollo Diamond company has been successful in creating 10 mm square diamond wafers and predicts it will be able to produce 4 inch wafers within five years. Europe and Japan have been investing heavily in diamond semiconductor research. The Japanese government has allocated over $6 million dollars a year to build the first-generation diamond computer chip. If we are not careful the Japanese will become the leaders in the new diamond computer chip industry.

Converting from a silicon based semiconductor to a diamond based semiconductor will not happen over night. Krishnamurthy Soumyanath, Intel's director of communications circuit research said that it takes us about 10 years of to evaluate a new material. But when it does happen it will be huge and I am ready for mine now. Now if we can only get Microsoft to quit introducing a new operating system every other year or so then perhaps "Diamonds Are Forever" would be true for the business world also.
About the Author
David Cowley has created numerous articles on Diamonds. He has also created a Web Site dedicated to Diamonds. Visit Diamonds
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