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Rep Prog Phys. 2012 Dec;75(12):126505. doi: 10.1088/0034-4885/75/12/126505. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

The mechanical and strength properties of diamond.

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1
Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, J J Thomson Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 0HE, UK.

Abstract

Diamond is an exciting material with many outstanding properties; see, for example Field J E (ed) 1979 The Properties of Diamond (London: Academic) and Field J E (ed) 1992 The Properties of Natural and Synthetic Diamond (London: Academic). It is pre-eminent as a gemstone, an industrial tool and as a material for solid state research. Since natural diamonds grew deep below the Earth's surface before their ejection to mineable levels, they also contain valuable information for geologists. The key to many of diamond's properties is the rigidity of its structure which explains, for example, its exceptional hardness and its high thermal conductivity. Since 1953, it has been possible to grow synthetic diamond. Before then, it was effectively only possible to have natural diamond, with a small number of these found in the vicinity of meteorite impacts. Techniques are now available to grow gem quality synthetic diamonds greater than 1 carat (0.2 g) using high temperatures and pressures (HTHP) similar to those found in nature. However, the costs are high, and the largest commercially available industrial diamonds are about 0.01 carat in weight or about 1 mm in linear dimension. The bulk of synthetic diamonds used industrially are 600 µm or less. Over 75% of diamond used for industrial purposes today is synthetic material. In recent years, there have been two significant developments. The first is the production of composites based on diamond; these materials have a significantly greater toughness than diamond while still maintaining very high hardness and reasonable thermal conductivity. The second is the production at low pressures by metastable growth using chemical vapour deposition techniques. Deposition onto non-diamond substrates was first demonstrated by Spitsyn et al 1981 J. Cryst. Growth 52 219-26 and confirmed by Matsumoto et al 1982 Japan J. Appl. Phys. 21 L183-5. These developments have added further to the versatility of diamond. Two other groups of materials based on carbon, namely the fullerenes and graphines have been identified in recent years and are now the subject of intense research.

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