The Applications and Making of Artificial Diamonds
Diamonds are very unique. Their hardness and beauty have enticed people for many years. Now some of the same attributes that make them appealing also make them useful. To understand these attributes the chemistry of carbon is very important. This unique chemistry is what makes them so hard to make. Much research has gone into the making of diamonds and this has led to many successes in the field. These discoveries have led to machines and processes that make diamond making more efficient and reliable. Of course, all of this research and discoveries would not be sought after if it was not for the many applications of diamonds. This is true for cosmetic, industrial and electronic purposes. Diamonds can be very complex but have many uses.
The chemistry of diamonds is very interesting. Diamonds are composed mainly of carbon. Carbon can also exist as graphite, in a carbon chain or as buckminsterfullerene. It never forms bonds and leaves unshared electron pairs. In graphite the carbon atoms form an sp2 bonds. In this type of bonding an electron of the s orbital jumps to the p orbital to complete the octet with the other carbon atoms. When this happens it causes the orbital to flatten and the result is one big lattice in a two dimensional plane (Oxtoby). These lattices are attracted to each other not bonded to each other in compounds of graphite. Although they are made of the same carbon the diamond compound is different because of the type of bonds. Each atom forms four directional sp3 bonds instead of the three resonating bonds in graphite. This allows the diamond to keep its tetrahedral shape. It is also what makes the diamond so hard. The tetrahedral shape makes interlocking triangles that reinforce each other (Oxtoby). Since this shape is centered around one atom but repeats itself this structure is known as a network solid. The unit cell of the diamond is face centered where the edges are 3.567 A, and it is 2.522 A on the diagonal.
This unique chemical nature of the diamond is what makes them so desirable. The uniqueness is what makes them so rare. This is what led to the need for manufactured diamonds. The earliest known reports of artificial diamonds came in 1913. This is when M.E. de Boismenu ran a current of 800 amps and 24 volts through molten carbide. These diamonds were microscopic and produced with carbide crystals in a large brick furnace in Paris (Scientific American). For about forty more years diamond making never caught on. However, as technology increased so did the ability to submit materials to higher pressures. Percy Williams Bridgman received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work with materials under high pressures but never created diamonds. Then on February 16, 1953 a Swedish team made diamonds. They did so by subjecting graphite to 8,4100 kPa of pressures with an unspecified amount of heat. Although they were the first to...