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As we head towards summer vacation time, I hope your 2018 has been fun and productive so far. I am sure that many of you will have heard last month's announcement about the formation of a new De Beers company called Lightbox that will offer the consumer market a range of lab-grown diamonds.
To supply this new market, Element Six is investing $95m in a new CVD diamond plant in Oregon, USA, scheduled to come on line in early 2020. This new facility will give Element Six access to unprecedented scale for its industrial diamond businesses. I am really excited by the opportunities this gives us and our partners.
Lightbox is offering colourless, blue and pink lab-grown CVD diamonds. As crystal growers and material scientists know, intrinsic undoped diamond is colourless in the visible, but its absorption properties can be modified by the incorporation of defects often referred to as ‘colour centres’ - either during the CVD growth process or using post growth treatments such as irradiation and annealing.
Defects give us a tool to engineer the properties of CVD diamond. By controlling common impurities such as nitrogen (giving diamond a yellow colour) and boron (blue colour), and how they combine with intrinsic defects such as vacancies, we can tailor the thermal, optical and electrical properties, to make electrically-conducting heat spreaders for thermal management, electrochemical electrodes that produce ozone for sanitation, and even grow in nitrogen vacancies centres (pink colour) to make magnetic sensors.
The diverse applications of diamond that exploit its exceptional properties and ‘colour centres' touch our lives in ways most are unaware of. Diamond creates the high-quality mirror finish on your smartphone, it is used to produce the 170 miles of copper wiring in the airplane that takes you on holiday, and enables new higher power lasers used in welding our cars together. It is even used in the quality control of food and pharmaceutical manufacture.
My Professor would say ‘Crystals are like people, Daniel, it’s their defects which make them interesting’. I look forward to continuing the journey of CVD diamond and finding new applications for this amazing engineering material.
Sales Director CVD