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Scaling up diamond growth for high-tech applications

By Mary Page Bailey |

A team of scientists in Kentucky are working to harness the unique material properties of diamonds — hardness, thermal conductivity, electrical resistivity and more — for advanced industrial applications, including biosensors and high-frequency and high-power devices. Kentucky Advanced Materials Manufacturing Co. (Louisville; www.kyammc.com), in collaboration with the University of Louisville (www.louisville.edu), operates a pilot plant where diamonds are grown from “seeds” in microwave-plasma reactors. The plant’s three reactor lines have been producing diamonds for jewelry applications for over four months, but the team is currently working on scaling up production for industrial applications. “This work involves growing large single crystals of diamonds using seeds, expanding them and slicing them into wafers. If you really want to industrialize diamonds, you need a large single-crystal wafer,” explains Mahendra Sunkara, professor of chemical engineering and director of the University of Louisville’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research (www.conncenter.org). The team has created seeds up to 11 × 11 mm in size, but there is still work to be done to commercialize these diamonds for the industrial space. “We…
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