Synthetic Diamond Properties

Synthetic Diamond Properties

Synthetic diamond’s molecular structure makes it the world’s most versatile supermaterial.

The extreme properties of the Element Six range of synthetic diamond materials makes them ideal for a surprising variety of advanced applications in industry, science and the home.

The unique combination of properties makes Element Six synthetic diamond one of the most exciting supermaterials available in the world. Element Six is currently researching numerous new applications with the potential to transform performance and economic advantage in industry and science.

The characteristics of synthetic diamond include:

  • The broadest electromagnetic transmission spectrum of any material
  • A wide electronic band gap (it carries very low current even under high voltages)
  • The ability to combine/dope with boron and take on a similar electrical conductivity to metal
  • The highest known thermal conductivity
  • The highest known resistance to thermal shock
  • Low thermal expansion
  • Low dielectric constant and loss
  • High electrical carrier mobility
  • A very low coefficient of friction
  • Chemical and biochemical inertness
  • Excellent electrical insulator properties

Mechanical properties
The exceptional hardness of synthetic diamond and its very low coefficient of friction have inherent advantages in mechanical applications. It extends tool life, reduces downtime and drives down operating costs and carbon footprints. An extremely tough form of synthetic diamond is polycrystalline diamond (PCD) which is used as the material in the vast majority of oil & gas drills – no other material can cope so well with the extreme conditions, and its usage offers overwhelming economic benefits to rig drilling operators. However, synthetic diamond is much more than just extremely hard, it can also be manufactured to have an ultra-fine edge for extreme precision – a vital factor in its usage as a surgical scalpel in ophthalmic and neuro surgery, for example.

Optical properties
Synthetic diamond has the widest spectral band of any known material – extending from ultraviolet to far infrared and the millimetre-wave microwave band. Coupled with its mechanical and thermal properties, this makes it the ideal ‘window’ material for many industrial, R&D, defence and laser applications, particularly in the production of laser optics where synthetic diamond provides optimum exit windows for CO2 lasers, such as those used in automotive cutting applications.

Thermal properties
With the highest known thermal conductivity (four times higher than copper), synthetic diamond is the ideal material for thermal management applications requiring optimum performance. Synthetic diamond makes a valuable contribution in all types of electronic and electrical applications where the build-up of heat can destroy delicate circuitry or severely impair performance. One of the first successful applications of synthetic diamond in this field was as a ‘heat sink’ for sensitive components used in the telecommunications industry and in microelectronic devices.

Electrochemical properties
Synthetic diamond is chemically and biologically inert and can survive in severe physical, chemical and radioactive environments that would destroy lesser materials. Indeed, its unique electrochemical properties enable the efficient oxidation of organic and inorganic compounds and Element Six investment has resulted in the successful application of a synthetic diamond-based product in industrial and household water treatment. In addition, synthetic diamond anodes enable ozone to be produced on a scale that is suitable for homes, restaurants, hotels and hospitals more efficiently and more reliably than any other technology currently available.

Electronic properties
Synthetic diamond also has a number of exciting electrical properties such as a low dielectric constant and loss, a high electrical carrier mobility and a wide electronic band gap (it allows very low current even under high voltages), all of which allow its use in advanced healthcare applications. These include therapy for eye cancer sufferers where synthetic diamond-based radiation detectors ensure the delivery of the correct dosage to target just the cancer-affected tissue, and not healthy tissue around it.

Quantum physicists at Harvard University are currently using the highest purity synthetic diamond from Element Six to develop synthetic diamond-based quantum computer technology that could enable faster data processing and secure communication.

The extreme properties of synthetic diamond as a semiconductor, coupled with its inherent thermal properties, are also making an important contribution in the search to unlock the secrets of the Big Bang. Synthetic diamond is used in the solid state particle detectors at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland, delivering the required level of ultra-fast, radiation-tolerant sensors capable of measuring proton collisions every 25 nano seconds.

Acoustic properties
Element Six polycrystalline CVD (chemical vapour deposition) diamond is a vital component in high performance loudspeakers. Element Six CVD diamond tweeters achieve frequencies of 70 kHz, resulting in an unrivalled clear and transparent sound reproduction. Element Six has perfected the technology to grow CVD diamond into complex geometric shapes at the right thicknesses, to produce domes with outstanding acoustic properties. Our synthetic diamond tweeters are used by Bowers & Wilkins in their flagship 800 Series loudspeaker range.

Our research and development focus
And this is just the beginning. The focus of Element Six research and development is to develop and deliver innovative supermaterial solutions for its partners, in whatever application. To achieve this, Element Six can draw upon research from its own facilities, as well as our collaborations with the world's leading supermaterials academic institutions, including the University of Warwick, Harvard University and the University of Witwatersrand.

To discover more about how we plan to bring the power of synthetic diamond, cubic boron nitride, silicon cemented diamond and tungsten carbide to the world of industry and science, visit our industries, applications and innovation pages.