Skip to comments.Super flawless diamonds now made by machines
Posted on 08/18/2003 9:12:19 AM PDT by bedolido
Setback for jewel industry is good news for high-tech
Two companies are manufacturing gem-quality diamonds that may break the DeBeers cartel and set off a high-tech craze for diamond chips much heartier than silicon, reports Wired Magazine's September issue.
The diamonds are flawless and can fool even the most expert of gemologists.
The natural conditions that produce diamonds have long been understood put pure carbon under enough heat and pressure and it will crystallize into the hardest material known. But evolutionists have suggested it would require millions of years to reproduce the precise set of circumstances. Some have suggested the earth's diamonds were produced deep in the planet's mantle some 3.3 billion years ago.
While replicating the conditions in a lab isn't easy, many have tried. Since the mid-19th century, Wired reports, dozens of these modern alchemists have been injured in accidents and explosions while attempting to manufacture diamonds. Starting in the 1950s, engineers managed to produce tiny crystals for industrial purposes to coat saws, drill bits and grinding wheels.
"But this summer, the first wave of gem-quality manufactured diamonds began to hit the market," the magazine reports. "They are grown in a warehouse in Florida by a roomful of Russian-designed machines spitting out 3-carat roughs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A second company, in Boston, has perfected a completely different process for making near-flawless diamonds and plans to begin marketing them by year's end. This sudden arrival of mass-produced gems threatens to alter the public's perception of diamonds and to transform the $7 billion industry. More intriguing, it opens the door to the development of diamond-based semiconductors."
Diamond is not only the hardest substance known, it also has the highest thermal conductivity.
"Today's speedy microprocessors run hot at upwards of 200 degrees Fahrenheit," says the report. "In fact, they can't go much faster without failing. Diamond microchips, on the other hand, could handle much higher temperatures, allowing them to run at speeds that would liquefy ordinary silicon. But manufacturers have been loath even to consider using the precious material, because it has never been possible to produce large diamond wafers affordably. With the arrival of Gemesis, the Florida-based company, and Apollo Diamond, in Boston, that is changing. Both startups plan to use the diamond jewelry business to finance their attempt to reshape the semiconducting world."
The sudden appearance of multi-carat, gem-quality synthetics has sent the DeBeers diamond cartel scrambling. Several years ago, it set up what it calls the Gem Defensive Program a campaign to warn jewelers and the public about the arrival of manufactured diamonds. At no charge, the company is supplying gem labs with sophisticated machines designed to help distinguish man-made from mined stones.
"I was in combat in Korea and 'Nam," says Gemesis founder Carter Clarke. "You better believe that I can handle the diamond business." His company has 27 diamond-making machines up and running with 250 planned at his factory outside Sarasota, Fla.
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Yellow diamonds manufactured by Gemesis, the first company to market gem-quality synthetic stones. The largest grow to 3 carats.
What a stupid thing for this article to say.
The plan is to sell gem quality diamonds (produced for a few dollars each) at about half price to DeBeers diamonds current price, so they can raise money for the chip building use. The article said that Intel had no current interest, as they have spent so much on silicon. A lot of money and business could swing on this new technology.
Moissanite is silicon carbide, with a Moh Hardness of 9.6. It is a good simulant, but not the "Real Thing".
Years ago, the blue LED was a kind of Holy Grail..If only someone could make one, with the red and green LED's available, RGB large monitors could be made! Cree Research was able to grow pure silicon carbide, which had the appropriate photonic bandgap for making blue LED's. It did not take them long to spin out another company to grow the gem material. There really is a mineral called "Moissanite", naturally-occurring SiC crystals found in meteorites.
So those huge color displays at stadiums, Disney World, etc, when viewed up close, have arrays of red, green, and blue LEDs, like the pixels in your monitor, and are, in a way, responsible for the Moissanite industry.
But there is nothing like diamond, whether from the ground or from a reactor.
Fool?? What does this idiot author mean by "fool"?
What an assinine statement. Diamonds are diamonds; I'll take cheap flawless ones over expensive flawed ones any day of the week.
De Beers maintains the high price of diamonds artificially by restricting availability, and their certification program does nothing to eradicate the black market or to ameliorate the suffering the black market causes.
Diamonds must lose their value.
Seems like, from discussion with an actual jeweler many years ago, that flawless natural diamonds are the exception. If someone turned up with a tray of flawless gem diamonds, one should assume they are all manmade. Natural diamonds have various inclusions and other defects, and color varies from one stone to the next.
True, but nobody requests inclusions and colors can be manufactured, so the top of the market will soon be dead. Where will that leave the bottom?
So, I wonder what will replace the diamond as the ultimate token of devotion?
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