3 Ways the Diamond Industry and High-Tech Are Coming Together
If you own diamond studded jewelry, chances are, that shiny rock you are looking at took Mother Earth a few billion years to make. This means it started its formation from highly organized carbon under extreme geological pressure, possibly before any living creature existed on earth.
In addition to that, scientists are now saying that diamonds may have formed during the Big Bang. This has been evidenced by NASA researchers who have found nanodiamonds in meteorites. Nanodiamonds are only about a few nanometers in size, which is not nearly big enough to make an engagement ring that many women would appreciate.
With that said, diamonds are really, really, really, old. And despite the fact that diamonds are commonly associated with jewelry and fashion, diamonds were first used by humankind for more practical reasons, such as making other tools out of stone.
Today, things have not changed much. Diamonds are still utilized by various industries as a tool or as a part of a tool. For example, diamonds are used to conduct eye surgeries such as Lasik eye surgery. Other medical and scientific procedures are also done with the use of diamond knives, which were created by Humberto Fernández Morán in 1955.
So, what future do diamonds and the high-tech industry have together? This article will take a quick look at technologies and industries profiting from diamonds.
1. Blockchain Diamonds
In the minds of most, blockchain technology is synonymous with digital currency or medical records. But blockchain is now being considered as the next tool in stopping the sale of conflict diamonds (AKA blood diamond). Conflict minerals and gemstones have garnered a lot of attention in the media as of late due to their use in the funding of terrorist organizations and rogue states.
In 2003, the Kimberley Process (KP) was developed to stem the flow of conflict diamonds by increasing transparency in the industry. Nevertheless, conflict diamonds are still finding their way into the market in huge numbers. Some of this is due to corruption while another issue is the dark web, with numerous darknet “vendors” from all over the globe selling cut and uncut diamonds.
Everledger was the first to introduce a blockchain-based platform designed especially for the diamond and jewelry industry in 2015. According to its website, the blockchain tech company combines “the latest forensic approaches to give physical assets an identity, enabling items to have proof of authenticity, existence as well as ownership. This provides confidence in the information captured and tracked through their lifetime journey.”
In addition to that, IBM launched its TrustChain Initiative late in 2017. By employing a “transformational effect blockchain” system, the tech giant hopes to position itself as a “game changer” in the diamond and jewelry industries.
2. Synthetic Diamonds
Though diamond synthesis can be traced as far back as the late 19th century, the first reproducible synthesis was officially established in 1955. So, it goes without saying that synthetic diamonds have been around for a good while. Nonetheless, those in the industry are always looking to make the process easier and the quality of the diamonds better.
The United States, Sweden, and the Soviet Union were all using the High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) processes throughout the mid-20th century until the present. As for the HPHT process, the equipment and the amount of energy used during the process are very costly.
First developed and used by General Electric (GE) in 1954, the HPHT method mimics the natural diamond formation process which consists of crystallizing carbon using intense heat and pressure.
The CVD method is not only used to produce diamonds. It is primarily used to produce high-quality, high-performance films in the semiconductor industry. CVD creates “circumstances necessary for carbon atoms in a gas to settle on a substrate in crystalline form,” forming diamonds under relatively low pressure (1–27 kPa; 0.145–3.926 psi; 7.5–203 Torr). This equates to a lower cost and is opening the way for many new scientific applications using synthetic diamonds.
In addition to that, De Beers has recently announced it is entering the synthetic diamond market. The diamond company says it can produce high-quality diamonds that rival even the finest naturally formed diamonds. De Beers also says it can control the quality of the synthetic diamonds it produces, opening up possibilities for using diamonds in applications such as storing data for special “quantum” computers. Additionally, synthetic diamonds with impurities of boron, as well as black and deep blue diamonds can be used as electrical conductors.
With diamond and tech companies racing to create the best synthetic diamond, many new and exciting things are now possible. Furthermore, synthetic diamonds may be the answer to solving problems such as the ecological footprint left by diamond mining and put an end to conflict diamonds.
3. Diamond-Powered Laser Weapons
From Star Wars to Star Trek, every kid who has seen laser guns in action has always dreamt of having one. While we may not live long enough to see them used as personal self-defense weapons, governments and weapon manufacturers are producing military-grade diamond-powered laser weapons.
In August of this year, the United States Army announced AKHAN Semiconductor, located in Gurnee, Illinois, as one of 125 companies to advance past the first round of its competition called the “Expeditionary Technology Search.”
AKHAN won the competition by submitting its trademark Miraj Diamond. Miraj Diamond is used to produce a type of glass that is harder and stronger than normal glass. The company also plans to create smartphone screens, since Miraj Diamond promises to make the screens six times stronger, 800 times cooler, and 10 times harder.
As for the military project, AKHAN’s special diamond-coated glass may be able to dissipate heat in the Army’s directed energy systems, a less romantic name for “aser weapons.” Ernie Schirmann, an AKHAN senior engineer, said that these pre-Star Trek era laser canons are used to heat targets up rather than zap them out of the sky. “You could use it to lock on to a sensitive component of an aircraft, like a guidance system, to disable it. Or some are purely destructive, like burning a hole in a target,” Schirmann said in an interview.
For those looking to play with laser pistols, do not fret. The USSR, one never ashamed to attempt the unthinkable, actually created a laser space pistol in the 1960s. Maybe the communist country thought it might be better safe than sorry to arm its cosmonauts with a laser-powered handgun to space in case they had to fend off aliens. Or maybe Demyan Makarenko from Peter the Great Academy was telling the truth in his video interview with Popular Mechanics when he said the laser gun was only designed to “blind sensitive optics and other sensors aboard a hostile spacecraft” if it got too close.
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