Diamonds pave the way to advanced industrial applications

Diamond application
[Image Courtesy - leibish.com]

Diamonds have been known by young and old alike as a precious stone to adore one’s jewelry. The little known use of diamonds is its application for industrial and scientific purposes. Only 30% of the diamonds produced worldwide are of gem quality, the rest are used for the non-gem uses. While there has already been a variety of application of diamonds in use, researchers and scientists all over the world are continuously trying to come up with new and advanced application of diamonds.

Tiny diamonds magnetometer

Magnetometer made by using diamond nanorods containing nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centres are being used to measure chemical potential of magnons (elementary spin excitations of magnetic materials) in a 20 nm-thick film of magnetic insulator yttrium-iron-garnet (YIG) over a distance of around 10 nm. They place the magnetometer just nanometres above the sample. The method is being developed by researchers at Harvard University.

When two neighbouring carbon atoms in a diamond are replaced by a nitrogen atom and an empty lattice site, the defect called NV centre occurs. The defect can detect very weak magnetic field. This technique of using tiny diamond magnetometer to measure spin voltage could help in development of spintronic devices which works on the spin of electron rather than their charge and it can be used for application in information technology.

Acoustic electronic devices

Acoustic-electronic device based on Lab-grown diamonds is created by researchers from the Technological Institute of Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials and the Siberian Federal University. While the previous working range of the analogous system was restricted to 10 GHz, the new device’s electromagnetic oscillations activate hypersound acoustic vibration with frequencies from 1 to 2-GHz.

As reported in the June issue of the journal Ultrasonics, “The monocrystalline synthetic diamond as a support has demonstrated exceptional acoustic parameters in the whole range of frequencies studied and can be successfully applied while developing various acoustic-electronic devices, in particular, of those functioning in the ultra-high frequency range.”

Optics

De Beers’ group company Element Six has been giving an active contribution in providing single crystal Carbon Vapour Deposition (CVD) diamonds that have application previously unattainable in optical settings. A laser holding specifically engineered low absorption single crystal CVD diamond that is 20 times more powerful than previous Raman laser system, is being demonstrated by researchers at MQ Photonics Research Centre at Macquarie University in Australia. This laser can cut through steel with its output power of approximately 400,000 laser pointers.

Diamond PureOptics another product by Element Six is a solution to delamination problems associated with thin film anti-reflective (AR) coatings. An improved damage threshold at higher powers is provided by PureOptics’ coating-free AR technology. This enables reduced downtime and increased productivity in high power transmissive optics. An increased reliability by a factor of 10 over traditional AR coatings is another feature of this product. Heat driven effects such as thermal lensing are also reduced by decreased optical absorption with the product’s window.

Diamond 2-D thin films

Scientists of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil have worked hard to create two-dimensional films of diamonds. Pair of graphene sheets was squeezed under pressure of around ten thousand times that of Earth’s atmosphere. The crystal structure appeared to change and hinted them that it had altered from graphene to diamonds.

These 2-D films have become the thinnest diamonds possible and can be used in the nanoworld. It is predicted to be magnetic and can be useful in the method of spintronics, which uses the spin of electrons to store data.

The University of Warwick is playing a major role in promoting the non-gem uses of diamonds. It recently hosted a public event – ‘Diamonds are for Everything’. It showcased applications of Lab-grown diamonds in various areas like sensing and mapping out magnetic fields, improving purity of sound and in next generation cars.

Professor Julie Macpherson commented on the event, “Warwick University is the UK hub for training the next generation of diamond scientists, funded by the UK research council and industry; working on a whole host of cutting edge applications. Diamond is the material of the future. Its applications are limitless and we are only now scratching the surface of this most amazing material. At Warwick we have a team dedicated to uncovering its uses and finding new solutions to some of the world’s emerging challenges.”

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