Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Type of Diamonds

Natural Diamonds

Natural diamonds are classified by the type and quantity of impurities found within them.

* Type Ia - This is the most common type of natural diamond, containing up to 0.3% nitrogen.
* Type Ib - Very few natural diamonds are this type (~0.1%), but nearly all synthetic industrial diamonds are. Type Ib diamonds contain up to 500 ppm nitrogen.
* Type IIa - This type is very rare in nature. Type IIa diamonds contain so little nitrogen that it isn't readily detected using infrared or ultraviolet absorption methods.
* Type IIb - This type is also very rare in nature. Type IIb diamonds contain so little nitrogen (even lower than type IIa) that the crystal is a p-type semiconductor.

Synthetic industrial diamonds

Synthetic industrial diamonds are produced the process of High Pressure High Temperature Synthesis (HPHT). In HPHT synthesis, graphite and a metallic catalyst are placed in a hydraulic press under high temperatures and pressures. Over the period of a few hours the graphite converts to diamond. The resulting diamonds are usually a few millimeters in size and too flawed for use as gemstones, but they are extremely useful as edges on cutting tools and drill-bits and for being compressed to generate very high pressures.

Thin Film Diamonds

A process called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) may be used to deposit thin films of polycrystalline diamond. CVD technology makes it possible to put 'zero-wear' coatings on machine parts, use diamond coatings to draw the heat away from electronic components, fashion windows that are transparent over a broad wavelength range, and take advantage of other properties of diamonds.

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