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Media Advisory 04-14

Third Annual Earth Day Distinguished Lecture

Large "Artificial" Diamonds Made from Gas Are Hardest Yet

photograph of a synthetic single-crystal diamond

This photograph shows a synthetic brilliant cut single-crystal diamond.

April 14, 2004

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.


Producing a material that is harder than natural diamond has been a goal of scientists for decades. Now a group headed by geophysicist Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (D.C.), has produced gem-sized diamonds that are harder than any other crystals. The scientists made the diamonds at a rate 100 times faster than other methods used to date. The process opens up a new way of producing diamond crystals for electronics, cutting tools and other applications.

Hemley and colleagues developed a special high-growth-rate chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process to grow the diamond crystals. They then subjected the crystals to high-pressure, high-temperature treatment to further harden the material. The method has been used to "grow" diamonds up to 10 millimeters across and 4.5 millimeters thick. The crystals are at least 50 percent harder than conventional diamonds; the diamonds were so hard they broke the scientists' measuring equipment. The researchers were able to grow the gem-sized crystals in a day.

In celebration of Earth Day 2004, Hemley will speak at the National Science Foundation, which funds the team's research, about the CVD process and the resulting super-diamonds.


Russell Hemley, Lead Scientist, Single Crystal CVD Diamond Project, Carnegie Institution of Washington


Third Annual Earth Day Distinguished Lecture--Large Diamonds Made from Gases Hardest Yet


Thursday, April 22, 2004
10:00 a.m.


National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110
Arlington, VA 22230
(Ballston Metro, enter at the corner of 9th and Stuart Streets)



Media Contacts
Cheryl L. Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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