Anticipating Future Technology Developments That Affect Diamond Business

Anticipating Future Technology Developments That Affect Diamond Business

Following are some technology developments regarding the future of diamonds that are expected to happen in the near to medium future of 5-10-20 years. You need to be prepared and anticipate these developments that may affect your business. We have culled this out from research that is going on in different laboratories in the world.

New Carbon Materials

1. Scientists crushed a naturally occurring kind of carbon called buckminsterfullerene (the molecules look like soccer balls) to create a material strong enough to dent diamonds.

As yet unnamed, it may find use in industrial manufacturing and deep-well drilling.

2. Aerographite is a form of carbon with a sponge like structure. It is water-repellent, highly resilient, and extremely light. It also conducts electricity. Its inventors believe it could be used in electric-car batteries—a lighter load cuts operating costs. They’ve yet to determine how to profit from its ability to absorb almost all light, which makes it is blacker than coal.

Source: For both the above, National Geographic Magazine, The Future of Diamonds in Technology

Review of Diamonds in Laser Technology

Diamonds are one of the hardest known substances on our planet. Not only is this crystallized carbon substance worn as diamond jewellery, but because of its unique design, diamonds are used in many industrial applications. Most people know that because of a diamond’s strength that it is often used as a device for drills and other mechanical devices. Diamonds are known to be able to handle high amounts of pressure and temperatures. However, the future of diamonds are being considered for their value in different scientific technology, such as lasers and even the creation of a cleaner energy source; fusion power.

Currently, we use lasers in various fields of science. The most common lasers people are familiar with are the ones used during a surgical a procedure; such as eye surgery. Lasers work by utilizing a specific light wave length which creates a particular colour, the most common being red, blue or green. Until recently, however, our technology with lasers did not produce a high quality laser in the ultraviolet light spectrum. Since diamonds are known for their light refracting attributes and the ability to withstand high temperatures, they have been reviewed for their applications in lasers. Researchers in Austria have introduced the use of diamonds in the “Raman” lasers. Raman lasers currently use silicon to create the laser light. Using silicon, though, limits the optical and thermal ranges of the light spectrum that can be utilized in creating the lasers' light source. Researchers are currently enhancing their technique by introducing diamonds as the material in lasers. Since diamonds are known for their refracted light abilities and offer a higher spectrum of wavelengths, different colour laser light, such as yellow light, which is used for surgery should now enable it to be utilized in a more efficient manner.

Diamonds Can Be Useful in Nuclear Energy

The use of diamonds in the scientific field however is not just limited to laser applications. With an increase awareness of environmental conditions such as global warming, alternative sources of energy are being pursued. Nuclear fusion is one potential source of clean energy that is being reviewed. One of the issues with fusion power though is that the material within the walls of the reactor must be able to withstand high temperatures and other stresses, while not producing any harmful products during the reaction with the reactor itself. Because diamonds are able to withstand high temperatures and conduct heat, the diamond is currently being reviewed to be used in the lining of the divertor. Future research will determine if the diamonds' carbon bonds can handle the environment for fusion power. This could include lab-grown diamonds, a great human innovation. Lab-grown diamonds are identical to their mined counterpart - physically, chemically and optically. They are also identical in crystalline structure, reflective index, dispersion, hardness and density. Perhaps one day soon, diamonds will be, not only a woman's best friend, but everyone’s best friend. Source: My Jewelry T

India is also playing a part in the development of nuclear fusion technology. In southern France, more than 20 billion dollars are being spent on trying to make a first-of-its-kind nuclear reactor, a special steel cauldron where top scientists from countries including India hope to generate clean nuclear energy by fusing atoms, a process similar to what happens on the sun. This is till date world's largest scientific project ever to be undertaken. The reactor will weigh about 23,000 tons - as much as three Eiffel Towers. Some 80,000 kilometres of special super conducting wires will be used.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) brings together India, China, South Korea, USA, Japan, Russia and the European Union as scientists see if they can jointly harness the power of the Sun by literally confining it in a steel bottle. The head of ITER, Dr. Osamu Motojima, points out that together these entities "represent half the world's population and account for two-third of the global economic might." Nuclear plants today generate power by splitting the atoms and in doing so they produce large quantities of radioactive waste that can be dangerous for hundreds of years and has to be handled with extreme care. In contrast, 'fusion energy' generates power by joining two atoms into one; the usual raw material is hydrogen; and the waste generated will largely be either helium, a benign noble gas, or water. That's why fusion energy is sometimes referred to as 'evergreen atomic energy'. According to Dr. Ravi Grover, head of the Indian delegation at ITER, 'fusion is inherently safe, there is no danger of an uncontrolled chain reaction and fears of a nuclear explosion are negligible, producing almost no long lived radioactive waste'.

Within the massive steel frame, gas will be heated to over 150 million degrees and it will be confined to a limited space. Using giant magnets, some atoms will then be forced to fuse together releasing huge amounts of heat which can then be directed to run turbines to generate electricity. In the first instance, it is hoped the fusion reactor will produce ten times more energy than what is used to initiate the reaction estimated to produce the equivalent of 500 MW of power. For half a century, scientists have dreamt about accomplishing this feat, but it was only in 2006 when progress was made with the formation of the ITER.

India is providing a tenth of the components for the massive nuclear complex unfolding at Cadarache in France. New Delhi is contributing what would, when completed in 2021, be the world's largest refrigerator. The cryostat acts like a thermos flask but operates at some of the coldest temperatures ever seen in the universe, working at minus 269 degrees Celsius. This is used to keep the special super conducting magnets at the cold temperature at which they need to operate; the entire fusion system would collapse if it can't be kept cold. India is also expected to contribute about 9,000 cores over the next decade to the project, thus paying for a little under 10% of the total cost. Once the proof is established that mankind can harness the power of the Sun, India could well build its own fusion reactors after 2050.

Diamond for Super Computers

Diamond-based computers would store millions of times more information than your silicon-based system. That's a whole lot of YouTube clips. In short,

- Diamond sheets patterned with thousands of nitrogen atoms could be the basis for a supercomputer.

- Quantum computers could solve currently intractable problems in cryptography and drug development.

- Diamond sheets filled with holes could be the key to the next generation of supercomputers.

Scientists in California have used commercially available technology to pattern large sheets of diamonds with tiny, nitrogen-filled holes. The nitrogen-vacancy diamonds, as the sheets are called by scientists, could store millions of times more information than current silicon-based systems and process that information dozens of times faster. Exactly how diamond-based computing would be used has yet to be determined, but applications could range from designing more efficient silicon-based computers to drug development and cryptography.

Diamonds in Quantum Mechanics

Nitrogen has been in diamonds for as long as there have been diamonds; it's why some diamonds have a yellow hue. For years scientists have used these natural, nitrogen-infused diamonds to study various aspects of quantum mechanics. "We've used well-known techniques to create atomic-size defects in otherwise perfect diamonds," said David Awschalom, a scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and co-author of a new article in the journal ACS Nano Letters.

A supercomputer based on quantum mechanics requires more precision than nature can provide, so scientists have searched for a way to artificially implant arrays of precisely patterned nitrogen holes inside sheets of diamond. Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, along with colleagues from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, created such an array by using an ion beam to first knock out two carbon atoms, and then replace them with one nitrogen atom. In one second, the scientists could inject about 4,000 glowing nitrogen atoms. In about one minute, the scientists had patterned several inches of flat diamond.

The scientists didn't use any overly complicated techniques to accomplish this. "You can buy it online, send it to another company for the patterning, and then explore it yourself," said Awschalom, whose students did exactly that to demonstrate the ease of the technology. The key to a diamond-based quantum mechanical computer is an extra electron in the hole. In a traditional computer, information is encoded as either as "0" or "1." In a diamond-based quantum computer, information could be stored in the spin of that electron. This means information could be stored as not only a "0" or "1," but also the direction in which the electron is spinning. An exact number is hard to come by, but scientists say this would dramatically increase the computing power compared with existing silicon computers.

Diamonds likely wouldn't replace the silicon used in today's consumer computers, said Ray Beausoleil, a fellow in Information and Quantum Systems at HP. "A quantum computer won't help you add two numbers faster," said Beausoleil. However, that doesn't mean consumers won't benefit from a diamond-based quantum computer. What it will do is help model certain extremely complex problems, said Beausoleil and David DiVincenzo, a scientist at IBM who is also familiar with the Nano Letters article. "This points to the fruitful end of a very long search of all the things that you could put in diamond to make it electronically active," said DiVincenzo. Diamonds aren't a sure bet for a quantum computer, said DiVincenzo, but they're certainly in the running because of this research.

Diamond-based materials brighten the future of electronics

Researchers have found a way to combine ultrananocrystalline diamond with graphene and gallium nitride, greatly improving the thermal properties of the material and helping to overcome theoretical limitations on semiconducting circuits. Two new studies performed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have revealed a new pathway for materials scientists to use previously unexplored properties of nanocrystalline-diamond thin films. While the properties of diamond thin films are relatively well-understood, the new discovery could dramatically improve the performance of certain types of integrated circuits by reducing their "thermal budget."

For decades, engineers have sought to build more efficient electronic devices by reducing the size of their components. In the process of doing so, however, researchers have reached a "thermal bottleneck," said Argonne nanoscientist Anirudha Sumant. In a thermal bottleneck, the excess heat generated in the device causes undesirable effects that affect its performance. "Unless we come-up with innovative ways to suck the heat off of our electronics, we are pretty much stuck with this bottleneck," Sumant explained. The unusually attractive thermal properties of diamond thin films have led scientists to suggest using this material as a heat sink that could be integrated with a number of different semiconducting materials. However, the deposition temperatures for the diamond films typically exceed 800 degrees Celsius -- roughly 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, which limits the feasibility of this approach. "The name of the game is to produce diamond films at the lowest possible temperature. If I can grow the films at 400 degrees, it makes it possible for me to integrate this material with a whole range of other semiconductor materials," Sumant said.

By using a new technique that altered the deposition process of the diamond films, Sumant and his colleagues at Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials were able to both reduce the temperature to close to 400 degrees Celsius and to tune the thermal properties of the diamond films by controlling their grain size. This permitted the eventual combination of the diamond with two other important materials: graphene and gallium nitride. According to Sumant, diamond has much better heat conduction properties than silicon or silicon oxide, which were traditionally used for fabrication of graphene devices. As a result of better heat removal, graphene devices fabricated on diamond can sustain much higher current densities. In the other study, Sumant used the same technology to combine diamond thin films with gallium nitride, which is used extensively in high-power light emitting devices (LED). "The common link between these experiments is that we're finding new ways of dissipating heat more effectively while using less energy, which is the key," Sumant said. "These processes are crucial for industry as they look for ways to overcome conventional limits on semiconducting circuits and pursue the next generation of electronics."

The results of the two studies were reported in Nano Letters and Advanced Functional Materials. Both of these studies were carried out in collaboration with Prof. Alexander Balandin at the University of California-Riverside and his graduate students Jie Yu, Guanxiong Liu and Dr. Vivek Goyal, a recent Ph.D. graduate. Funding for the research conducted at the Center for Nanoscale Materials was provided by the Basic Energy Sciences program of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Source: The above is based on materials provided by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. The original article was written by Jared Sagoff. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.