The Miracle Of Diamond

In the animal kingdom, humans (Homo sapiens) have the most of a species in quantity, and they are also highest of intelligence in quality. Hence, humans are the undisputable king of all animals. In the material world, diamonds also enjoy the same royal status, as this material is the most abundant in the universe and also have the most useful properties.

Carbon ranks number 4 in the universal abundances of elements, after the three gas elements: hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. Hence, it is the most abundant solid in the universe. Carbon forms the backbone of organic compounds — compounds that are 10 times more diverse than all other materials combined. Moreover, carbon is the essence of the biological cells (e.g. DNA and protein) that have sparked the life in the otherwise unanimated world. In the entire carbon family, diamond stands out as the supreme ruler, as it has the most extreme properties of all materials.

Although diamonds may be rare on Earth, they may be found everywhere in the universe. Diamond has been detected from the spectra of interstellar dusts. Nano-sized diamond particles were also recovered from plunging meteorites. Moreover, scientists have speculated that the interiors of giant planets (e.g. Uranus or Neptune) are composed primarily of diamond formed by the decomposition of ubiquitous methane under tremendous pressure. Diamond may also form in many colossal stars as the high pressure phase of carbon that is one of the terminal elements of nuclear synthesis. The deep buried diamond in these gigantic stars may have a mass millions of times greater than that of Earth.

Diamond Nanotechnology: Synthesis and Applications by James C Sung & Jianping Lin

Copyright © 2009 by Pan Stanford Publishing Pte Ltd


Miraculously, this universe's omnipresent solid is also omnipotent. The omnipotent diamond exhibits many extreme and useful properties. They include aesthetical brilliance, mechanical strength, abrasion resistance, edge sharpness, thermal conductivity, thermal expansion, heat capacity, wave propagation, electrical insulation, hole mobility, chemical inertness, optical transparency, radiation hardness, electron emission, surface smoothness, friction coefficient, etc. These supreme properties, coupled with other unique attributes, such as extremely low thermal expansion coefficient, have distinguished diamond from all other materials as a totally unique substance (Fig. 3.1). Thus, the Queen of Gems as it has been known in the past will become the King of Materials in the future.

In the past, industrial diamonds have been limited by size and geometry. Therefore, the primary uses for industrial diamonds have been in the mechanical industry as ultrahigh pressure anvils, surgical knives, and most commonly, as superabrasives (e.g. used in grinding wheels). But with the emerging availability of large sized diamond films and complicated diamond-like carbon coatings many other functional applications of diamond and its related materials are now either commercially available or under development. Thus, the application of diamonds have led to the development of the fastest heat spreader available (e.g. for packaging

Figure 3.1. Diamond possesses properties that are a cut above all other materials.

200 watts computer CPU or for bonding millions of semiconductor chips); the highest frequency resonator attainable (as 100 kHz tweeter diaphragm or 10 GHz surface acoustic wave filter); the most powerful semiconductor allowable (e.g. recent Japanese initiative for developing ultracomputer with 20 times speed of silicon chips); the most transparent radiation window achievable (e.g. for megawatts microwave transmission, or as six mach missile radome); the most inert chemical barrier invented (e.g. for probing the corrosive atmosphere at high temperature); the most energetic particle detector possible (e.g. for monitoring cosmic rays), the most efficient cold cathode known (e.g. for field emission display). And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition, diamond-like carbon (DLC) coatings have become a must for protecting computer hard drives and other chemical-mechanical parts during such applications as thin film deposition on silicon wafers or acid slurry polishing of integrated circuitry. DLC coated cassette disks and razor blades are also commonplace consumer products nowadays. In the medical device industry, DLC coatings are also critical for sustained reliability of medical components such as heart valves, artificial joints, and expandable stents.

With the availability of a greater variety and more complex shapes and sizes at affordable prices, applications for the use of diamonds have increased steadily (Fig. 3.2). Diamond has also been

Figure 3.2. Diamond has been used in almost every sector of industrial products. In many such applications, the functionality that diamond provides cannot be substituted by other materials.

Figure 3.2. Diamond has been used in almost every sector of industrial products. In many such applications, the functionality that diamond provides cannot be substituted by other materials.

applied constantly for new frontier applications and most of them become the enabling function with no alternative substitute possible. With the increasing commercial development underway, the arrival of the ultimate diamond age in the future seems inevitable.

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