About superabrasive diamonds
Diamond is carbon in its most concentrated form. Except for trace impurities like boron and nitrogen, diamond is composed solely of carbon, the chemical element that is fundamental to all life.
But diamond is distinctly different from its close cousin the common mineral graphite which is also carbon. Why is diamond the hardest surface known while graphite is exceedingly soft? Why is diamond transparent while graphite is opaque and metallic black? What is it that makes diamond so unique?
The key to these questions lie in diamondīs particular arrangement of carbon atoms or its crystal structure -- the feature that defines any mineralīs fundamental properties. In graphite, each carbon atom bonds to only 3 of its 4 valence electrons with neighboring carbons. The resulting structure of these bonds is a flat sheet of connected carbon atoms. Though individually strong, these layers are only weakly connected to one another, and the ease with which they are separated is what makes graphite so slippery. In diamond however, every carbon shares all 4 of its available electrons with adjacent carbon atoms, forming a tetrahedral unit. This shared electron-pair bonding forms the strongest known chemical linkage, the covalent bond, which is responsible for many of diamondīs superlative properties. The repeating structural unit of diamond consists of 8 atoms which are fundamentally arranged in a cube.
Hardness is not the only property of diamond that makes it so important in industry and technology. Its extraordinary thermal conductivity, low-friction surface, and optical transparency put diamond into cutting-edge applications. Many new products, like compact electronic devices, windows for optical devices in demanding environments, and "no-wear" bearings, such as in the space shuttle, utilize diamond. For these applications, a synthetic form leads the way. This is CVD, so-named for the growth technique chemical vapor deposition.