Recent rumors say that Apple is going to begin using diamond to protect phone screens instead of the traditional gorilla glass. If the rumors are true, this is because diamond is the hardest material readily available that can reasonably be widely implemented in today’s technology. Having to be formed over millions of years in the Earth’s core, real diamonds are extremely rare. This is why for industrial purposes requiring very hard materials such as cutting rocks / precious gems, synthetic diamonds are used. Regarding phone screens, synthetic diamond is said to be stronger, less conductive and thinner than gorilla glass. It’s also not very hard to produce, in comparison with real diamonds.
How is Synthetic Diamond Made?
To forge a diamond, graphite is put into a high temperature and pressure environment, specifically 5 Gigapascals at 1500 °C. A variety of machines can do this, but they all operate differently. The newest machines have forces applied to the carbon source (usually graphite) from different angles to create the desired shape and to equalize pressure while it’s being heated. Older and more widely used methods involve melting carbon sources and putting them on diamond seeds which grow into diamonds in a solution of heavily heated metals precipitating out.
How will Synthetic Diamond Influence the Future?
As previously mentioned, abrasives are the main use for synthetic diamonds; they are used for cutting and polishing and can even be ground up into a powder for abrasion. They can also be doped with elements like boron and phosphorous and be used as semiconductors. Diamonds can be used as heat sinks because they have a low electrical conductivity and are good at dissipating heat. This is very important, as heat damage can severely shorten the lifespan of electronics.
Synthetic diamond will definitely have a big impact on the world due to its longevity, durability and properties. Maybe that’s why real diamonds have been and are currently valued heavily all over the globe.
Edited by: Sabrina Conza and Shreya Singireddy