Proceedings PaperArtifact Diamond Its Allure And Significance
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While the preponderance of the mechanical, optical, and electronic properties of natural diamond have been known for over a decade, only recently has artifact diamond in technologically useful form factors become an exciting possibility. The advent of sacrificial, lattice matched crystalline substrates provides the basis not only for semiconducting applications of diamond, but for optical mirrors, lenses, and windows as well. As a semiconductor, diamond has the highest resistivity, the highest saturated electron velocity, the highest thermal conductivity, the lowest dielectric constant, the highest dielectric strength, the greatest hardness, the largest bandgap and the smallest lattice constant of any material. It also has electron and hole mobilities greater than those of silicon. Its figure of merit as a microwave power amplifier is unexcelled and exceeds that of silicon by a multiplier of 8200. For integrated circuit potential, its thermal conductivity, saturated velocity, and dielectric constant also place it in the premier position (32 times that of silicon, 46 times that of GaAs). Although not verified, its radiation hardness should also be unmatched. Aside from its brilliant sparkle as a gemstone, there has been little use of diamond in the field of optics. Processing of the diamond surface now appears to be as simple as that of any other material --albeit with different techniques. In fact, it may be possible to etch diamond far more controllably (at economically viable rates) than any other material as the product of the etch is gaseous and the etched trough is self-cleaning. Other properties of diamond make it an ideal optical material. Among them are its unmatched thermal conductivity, its extremely low absorption loss above 228 nanometers, and unmatched Young's modulus, Poisson's ratio, tensile strength, hardness, thermal shock, and modulus of elasticity. If the recently-found mechanisms by which erbium impurities in III-V junctions can be made to "lase" are indeed applicable to indirect gap semiconductors, then even efficient diamond lasers at attractive portions of the spectrum become a distinct possibility.