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John O | October 2018

Industry giant De Beers looking towards electronics applications for synthetic diamonds

By Josh Perry, Editor


De Beers, one of the largest international corporations specializing in diamond exploration, mining, retail, and trading, is looking to expand its synthetic diamond production and targeting high-tech markets, such as blockchain, quantum computing, lasers, and thermal management.


De Beers is turning its sights on technology applications for its synthetic diamonds. (Wikimedia Commons)


According to a recent report from Reuters, Element Six, which is the synthetic diamond extension of De Beers, is currently building a $94 million factory in Portland, Ore. The report continued, “Resilient to extreme temperatures with super-conductive properties, diamonds can withstand conditions that silicon cannot, but roadblocks around cost and production have thwarted developers.”


Element Six has turned to chemical vapor deposition (CVD) as the means to produce high-quality, more cost-effective synthetic diamonds and the hope is that this production line could make them more accessible to technology markets.


The Reuters report explained, “While the wholesale replacement of silicon semiconductors by diamonds is unlikely, niche markets such as the thermal management of semiconductor packaging, which is worth tens of billions of dollars annually, are likelier applications.”


In 2017, Element Six announced that it produced synthetic diamonds for the automotive industry in China. The diamonds were designed to be used in the machining of parts because the diamonds would wear down slower than standard materials.


As noted in the Reuters article, in order for Element Six to meet the demands of chip manufacturers such as Apple or Intel there will need to be a ramp up in production and consistency, but the company is setting its sights on meeting those demands.

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