Sunday, 31 August, 2003

Manufactured diamonds

How many things change when $15,000 gem-quality diamond can be had for $200?  People have been trying (and literally dying) for almost 200 years to manufacture diamonds.  They've finally succeeded.  This has some interesting consequences to the traditional diamond industry, and has resulted in a flurry of new technologies for detecting the difference between natural and manufactured diamonds.  I think this will be effective in the short term, but I suspect De Beers' lock on the world diamond market is nearing its end.

More important than gem stones, though, are the implications for the semiconductor industry.  Diamond is the best semiconductor material known and can run at much higher temperatures than can silicon.  It's not used currently because it's been impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to create high-quality diamond wafer.  But with this new technology, that could change very quickly.  Imagine, I'll have more and higher-quality diamonds in my computers than my wife has in her jewelry.