Diamonds from the microwave
The most valuable gemstone in the world is produced in a special plasma source
Diamonds are typically produced under gigantic pressure and under enormous heat. Natural diamonds were formed thousands of years ago inside the Earth at a depth of 150 km and a temperature of 1400°C. They consist of carbon, condensed at a pressure of over 70,000 kilograms per square centimetre. During a volcanic eruption, the diamonds pass through the Earth's crust to its surface, where they are deposited in volcanic rock.
The Earth's diamond reserves are limited and excavation often takes place under difficult conditions. Global production of natural diamonds is currently at about 20 tons per year. Only five percent of the stones found are of jewellery quality. The remainder is used industrially, for example, for drills and tools. However, the demand for commercially viable diamonds is far greater than the supply. Natural diamonds cannot meet about 80 percent of industrial demand. In order to close this gap in demand and to produce material for specific applications, the synthesis of diamonds continues to gain in importance.
A particularly efficient process for the synthetic production of diamonds has been developed by Dr. Hildegard Sung-Spitzl and her husband Dr. Ralf Spitzl from the Iplas company in Troisdorf, Germany. For this method, the valuable gemstone is manufactured from a gas mixture in a microwave-excited plasma source.
The most well-known property of diamonds is certainly their hardness, which exceeds that of all other materials. The range of specific technical properties, however, is significantly wider and ranges from the highest degree of heat conductivity through good electrical insulation to an extremely high optical refractive index and high chemical resistance.
Read more about this state of the art technology in the attached application report.
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Fig.1: The core of the plasma system is a flat steel cylinder with elaborate fine holes, through which the gas enters.