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Diamond Scietific Research

During the Gulf War in 1991, sand wore out the infrared optics used by fighter pilots for night-time observation. Desert pebbles scraped the thick transparent navigational windows, turning them into cloudy, scratched walls -> a great risk for pilots in flight. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of these windows, financed a project at University of Florida to draw up a means of protecting fighter plane windows from such damage. The solution: a diamond coating.

Researchers invented the coating by mixing a powder containing microscopic particles or grains of diamonds with water. Placed into this solution is a silicon wafer, to which the particles of diamond stick, with the wafer then subjected to microwaves in a chamber filled with carbon gases. The intense heat of the microwaves divides the gases, and since diamonds are made of carbon, carbon atoms from the gases are naturally attracted and adhere to the diamond particles on the silicon wafer, forming yet more diamond particles. This technique may, according to scientists, be used for the coating of many different surfaces, making them practically impossible to scratch. We may expect it all in future, from diamond-coated cookers to space station windows.

One such window has already been into space. A very expensive window with the dimensions of a 25-cent coin withstood extreme temperatures on one of the probes sent to Venus in 1978. Scientists are also attempting to invent methods for cheaper and faster production of individual diamond crystals. One day the costs of producing diamonds may have fallen enough that it will be possible to use them in computers or easily overheating integrated circuits. Current silicon microprocessors heat up very rapidly, and were it not for cooling systems would burn out in several minutes. One day diamond processors may replace the delicate silicon, creating faster; more powerful computers which heat will no longer harm.