|Scientists have produced a method for making electrical components within diamond. A proton beam is used to burn channels into diamond crystal. The protons convert the targeted areas into channels of amorphous carbon or graphite, both of which materials are excellent conductors of electricity. The electricity-conducting channels (separated by electrically insulating diamond) can be made into any desired three-dimensional configuration, including whole circuit boards.
While pure diamond is not a good conductor of electricity, the creation of electrically conductive zones within diamond offers excellent conductivity in combination with the advantages of diamond's superior properties. Owing to diamond's superior physical properties, diamond microcircuitry is an excellent conductor of heat. It is fireproof, strong, impact-resistant, light-weight, durable, and its optical properties allow it to withstand ionizing radiation far better than today's electronic components. Recent developments in the commercial-scale production of diamond sheeting make diamond microcircuitry a viable and economical technology.
A Quantum Leap for the Computer Industry: Whole circuit boards with localized conductive zones (conductive paths for interconnecting electronic components) will work in closely-packed, heat-generating environments. Computers will be much smaller, operate at higher speed and current, be more free of heat build-up, and be much more resistant to high voltage surges. The properties of diamond microcircuitry render today's technology obsolete. While IBM's new copper connections for computer chips are an excellent refinement in current technology, diamond microcircuitry is a quantum leap. The graphite zones replace today's circuit board conductors and connectors (presently made of aluminum or copper) and allow for extremely compact chip sockets devoid of metallic connectors.
Benefits for Other Industries that Utilize Electronics: The automobile industry and all industries that utilize either internal combustion or turbine engines, which can produce high levels of heat, can install diamond microcircuitry based sensors. Communications satellites and space vehicles can benefit because diamond microcircuitry is less sensitive than conventional solidstate circuitry to the periodic solar bursts of ionizing radiation that cause communications failures. Diamond microcircuitry presents a whole new concept for making solidstate electronic components, affording a major technological advance in electronics.
Reduced Size: Circuit boards can be smaller and more light weight. Computer chips can be closely packed onto diamond film microcircuitry, because the graphite zones reaching the surface of the diamond replace metallic connectors. Computer chips can be packed together more densely because of diamond's high heat conductivity and greater electrical breakdown field.
Higher Speed: Diamond has higher electron and hole mobility which, when combined with higher electric fields, will result in higher speed computer components.
More Heat Transfer: From mini-computers to super-computers, all computers can take advantage of the greater thermal conductivity of diamond, so that closely-packed computer components will be more easily cooled. Owing to the high heat conductivity of diamond and its wide bandgap, about twice as wide as that of SiC, diamond-based electrical devices will work at higher ambient temperatures.
Higher Current: Circuit boards will be made of extremely strong, electrically conductive fiber-like channels of amorphous carbon that are separated by electrically insulating diamond. High thermal conductivity will make diamond-based integrated circuits able to operate at higher currents than is possible for other materials, including IBM's new computer chips with copper connections. Diamond-based semiconductor devices excel over today's silicon and silicon carbide (SiC). Although the maximum operating temperatures for SiC and diamond are comparable, diamond will operate at higher voltages because its bandgap is almost twice as large.
More Surge Protection: Diamond's wide bandgap allows it to operate at higher voltages, making diamond microcircuitry substantially more resistant to large voltage surges.