Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The real diamond age begins

Someone is finally making "cultured" diamonds without the colors found in other diamond manufacturers' products. Yeah, they will look good on your finger, but the fun stuff is all the other ways they could be used.
From the beginning of his research with CVD more than 20 years ago, Robert Linares hoped that diamonds would become the future of electronics. At the heart of almost every electrical device is a semiconductor, which transmits electricity only under certain conditions. For the past 50 years, the devices have been made almost exclusively from silicon, a metal-like substance extracted from sand. It has two significant drawbacks, however: it is fragile and overheats. By contrast, diamond is rugged, doesn't break down at high temperatures, and its electrons can be made to carry a current with minimal interference. At the moment, the biggest obstacle to diamond's overtaking silicon is money. Silicon is one of the most common materials on earth and the infrastructure for producing silicon chips is well established.

Apollo has used profits from its gemstones to underwrite its foray into the $250 billion semiconductor industry. The company has a partnership Bryant Linares declines to confirm to produce semiconductors specialized for purposes he declines to discuss. But he revealed to me that Apollo is beginning to sell one-inch diamond wafers. "We anticipate that these initial wafers will be used for research and development purposes in our clients' product development efforts," Linares says.

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