As compact carbon crystals, diamonds with their unexpected properties find a home in the most modern high-tech applications. Thanks to their exceptional hardness, diamonds are indispensable for drilling, grinding and cutting in industrial production, but now also in optics, photonics and quantum technology. The hardest material in the world can do even more: Diamonds generate flashes of light and develop unexpected electronic properties when stretched and bent. “The processing of diamonds is a highly specialized craft that has acquired an important role in various industries due to the unique properties of this gemstone,” explains Dr. Peter Riedi, precious metals expert and shareholder of Premium Diamonds, a brand of EM Global Service AG from Liechtenstein.
Diamonds are known to be the hardest stones in the world, and their properties seemed all but impossible until a surprising observation of tiny, needle-shaped diamond pillars was demonstrated in 2018 by the team led by Yang Lu at the City University of Hong Kong. Still relatively young, but nanodiamonds are considered quick-change artists, they are amazingly elastic and conductive and, with their special properties, promise numerous advances in the high-tech industry as a future super material.
Diamonds in industry – a multi-faceted stone
Industry needs diamonds for processing when conventional tools reach their limits, for example with a wide variety of materials. “One advantage lies in the exceptional hardness of this gemstone, which is why the most important area of application for diamonds is in industry,” explains Dr. Riedi. With a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale, diamonds can easily cut and polish other materials. dr Riedi explains that hard materials such as metal, alloys, hard rocks such as basalt, gneiss or other precious stones such as ruby, sapphire and emerald, concrete, reinforced concrete, bricks, tiles or paving stones cannot be processed with ordinary tools due to their hardness. Therefore, diamonds are widely used in industry for cutting tools such as diamond saws, diamond drills and diamond files. These tools enable precise cutting and finishing in areas such as construction, metalworking and jewelry making. “Depth drilling into the earth’s subsoil only became possible with diamond-tipped drills,” explains Dr. Riedi.
As a sought-after global material in the high-tech industry, the industry is one of the main customers. Synthetic diamonds are used to meet the demand for diamonds in industry. Of the required industrial diamonds, 97 percent are synthetic diamonds and only 3 percent are naturally occurring diamonds.
From insulator to semiconductor to conductor – diamonds as heat dissipators
Another important aspect of diamond processing is their thermal conductivity, because diamonds are uniquely thermally resilient. “In addition, they can also be exposed to strong electrical resistance, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular in laser technology and in the manufacture of semiconductors,” explains Dr. Riedi.
Diamonds conduct heat better than any other material, which is why they are often used in high-tech industries to cool electronic components. In comparison, the thermal conductivity of diamonds is three times that of copper, for example, according to Dr. Riedi. Microchips, high power LEDs and laser technology are just a few examples of products that use diamond as a heat sink. These applications enable efficient heat dissipation and prevent overheating, which improves the performance and lifespan of the electronic devices.
Precision in processing
The processing of diamonds requires high-precision tools and machines that have been specially developed for this material. In the jewelry industry, diamonds are polished using grinding and polishing machines to maximize their brilliance and beauty. In the manufacture of diamond cutting tools, special grinding machines are used to shape the sharp edges. These high-tech devices require expertise and experience to ensure the best quality and efficiency when processing diamonds. “In the high-precision area of tool production, diamonds are used as a component of grinding or cutting tools,” explains Dr. Riedi.
Diamonds in everyday products – thanks to record players, diamond owners
Besides the obvious applications in the jewelry and high-tech industries, we also find diamonds in other products of everyday life. An example of this is diamond abrasives used in metalworking. These abrasives consist of diamond particles attached to a backing material that help grind and polish metals. Diamond coatings are also used in plastic products to increase wear resistance and improve surface hardness. dr Riedi adds that until a few years ago diamonds could be found in almost every household, namely in the tip of the pickup, the stylus, of a record player. “Today diamond dust is used, in the past the tip of the stylus consisted of a diamond,” says Dr. Riedi.
In summary, diamonds can do much more than just be beautiful, unique and finite. High-tech industries benefit from diamonds’ exceptional hardness and thermal conductivity, while jewelry industries capitalize on the brilliance and beauty of these gemstones. Diamond processing requires specialized tools and machinery to ensure the best quality and efficiency. However, diamonds are not only found in jewelry and high-tech applications, but also in abrasives and coatings used in various other products.
dr Rainer Schreiber
Lecturer, adult education & HR consultant
About the author:
Personnel consultant and honorary lecturer Dr. Rainer Schreiber, with a degree in economics with a focus on financing, controlling, human resources and training. The blog schreiber-bildung.de offers topics related to education, further training and career opportunities. He is interested in vocational adult education and publishes on the subject of personnel consulting, demographic change and economic policy. You can reach us at abowi.com.
Premium Diamonds is a brand of EM Global Service AG. Located in the heart of Europe, the company EM Global Service AG designs and oversees raw material concepts. The range of services offered by EM Global Service AG includes the acquisition, safekeeping and security of physical precious metals and gemstones for the owners. The company builds on economic stability and secures this with reliability and discretion in the safekeeping of assets. Premium Diamonds offers premium, value for money diamonds for dealers and jewelers with HRD or GIA certificates.
dr. Peter Riedi
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