Industrial Applications of Diamond
Industrial Applications of Diamond
As explained in what diamonds are, diamonds are a crystalline form of Carbon (albeit sometimes with impurities), used as both a gem stone and in industrial applications. As a gem stone, appearance and size - the four C's (color, clarity, cut and carat) and of primary importance, but these factors are largely irrelevant to most industrial applications of diamonds.
As a result, less attractive diamonds (both mined natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds), tend to be used in industrial applications. The exact line between gem-quality diamonds, and those more suitable for industrial uses, does vary, and is partly dependent on conditions in the diamond market. However, overall, around 80% of mined diamonds (around 135,000,000 carats - 27,000 kg), as well as most synthetic diamonds (around 4,500,000,000 carats - 900,000 kg), are used in industrial uses.
Historically the most important industrial uses of diamond were based around the material's extreme hardness, which makes diamond ideal for cutting and grinding tools (diamond-tipped drill-bits, saws, scalpels, and the use of diamond powder as an abrasive). One exception to this general rule is that diamond-tipped tools are not widely used for machining ferrous alloys, since when machining is done at high speed, high temperatures are reached, and Carbon actually becomes soluble in Iron at such temperatures - making these use of diamond counter-productive.
As well as the above uses, diamond has some other specialized uses. For example, diamond can be used in high-performance bearings, and is also used in a machine known as the Diamond Anvil Cell (DAC) which is a specialized machine used in scientific experiments which require extreme pressures (100 to 200 gigapascals is typical, but pressures up to 770 gigapascals have been achieved using such cells).
Finally, assuming that the price of synthetic diamonds continues to fall, it is likely that diamond will have additional applications in future. As well as being extremely hard, diamond is also known for its thermal conductivity, so one possible future use is as a heat sink for integrated circuits.
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