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Media Advisory


NSF PA/M 04-14 - April 14, 2004

Third Annual Earth Day Distinguished Lecture
Large "Artificial" Diamonds Made from Gas Are Hardest Yet

Producing a material that is harder than natural diamond has been a goal of scientists for decades. Now a group headed by geophysicist Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (D.C.), has produced gem-sized diamonds that are harder than any other crystals. The scientists made the diamonds at a rate 100 times faster than other methods used to date. The process opens up a new way of producing diamond crystals for electronics, cutting tools and other applications.

Hemley and colleagues developed a special high-growth-rate chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process to grow the diamond crystals. They then subjected the crystals to high-pressure, high-temperature treatment to further harden the material. The method has been used to "grow" diamonds up to 10 millimeters across and 4.5 millimeters thick. The crystals are at least 50 percent harder than conventional diamonds; the diamonds were so hard they broke the scientists' measuring equipment. The researchers were able to grow the gem-sized crystals in a day.

In celebration of Earth Day 2004, Hemley will speak at the National Science Foundation, which funds the team's research, about the CVD process and the resulting super-diamonds.



Russell Hemley, Lead Scientist, Single Crystal CVD Diamond Project, Carnegie Institution of Washington


Third Annual Earth Day Distinguished Lecture--Large Diamonds Made from Gases Hardest Yet


Thursday, April 22, 2004
10:00 a.m.


National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110
Arlington, VA 22230
(Ballston Metro, enter at the corner of 9th and Stuart Streets)

For more information and to obtain a pass for entrance into the NSF building, please contact:

Media contact:

 Cheryl Dybas

 (703) 292-7734


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Photo of a synthetic brilliant cut single-crystal diamond grown by chemical vapor deposition, CVD.
This photograph shows a synthetic brilliant cut single-crystal diamond grown by chemical vapor deposition, CVD. About 2.5 mm high, this crystal was grown in about 1 day at Carnegie. The very bottom (table) of the crystal is a type 1b seed: hence the yellow tint which is due to internal reflection (the CVD diamond is transparent). [C.S. Yan et al., Physica Status Solidi (a) 201,R25 (2004)(PDF 288KB)]. The researchers have also reported that these CVD diamonds are capable of easily generating ultrahigh pressures to at least 200 GPa.[W.L. Mao et al., Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 5190 (2003)(PDF 288KB)].
Credit: Image used with permission of Physica Status Solidi.
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(Size: 227KB)

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