Diamonds are a versatile raw material. The diamonds processed in the jewelry industry actually represent only a fraction of the total diamonds used annually. For decades, laboratory diamonds in particular have also been in high demand in industry, as they are an excellent material for cutting, grinding or polishing. According to Diamond Foundry CEO Martin Roscheisen, laboratory diamonds could find application in many more areas in the coming years.
Roscheisen is convinced that a successful future lies ahead for laboratory diamonds - and thus also for Diamond Foundry. The US company Diamond Foundry Inc. was founded in 2012 and specializes in the production of laboratory diamonds. What sets the company apart from its now numerous competitors in the industry is the issue of sustainability: the manufactory in Washington State is powered 100% by hydropower from the Columbia River, making it CO2-neutral. In fact, Diamond Foundry was the first diamond producer in the world to be officially certified as "carbon-neutral." The foundry, which is currently being built in Spain and is scheduled to be operational in 2025, will also be powered solely by renewable energy - namely, adapted to the hot location by 100% solar energy.
Expanded areas of application through technological progress
According to Roscheisen, laboratory diamonds could be used in many new technologies in the future: for example, computer chips will probably contain only diamond wafers in the years to come. In order to use diamond as a raw material in semiconductor manufacturing, it must be of gemstone quality and of the highest purity. Therefore, this possibility only opens up now that the production of diamonds in the laboratory is so mature that such quality can be guaranteed. With diamond wafers, computer chips can be taken to a new level, as diamond makes them more resistant in extreme environments as well as more compact, yet energy efficient. Computer chips with diamond wafers could be used in quantum computers, electric vehicles, but also in ordinary smartphones, laptops and many other technical devices. Even smartphone displays could eventually be made of diamond and thus be made far more resistant. Martin Roscheisen is therefore certain that lab-grown diamonds will soon dominate the diamond industry.
Future prospects for Diamond Foundry also brilliant
Martin Roscheisen is convinced that Diamond Foundry will also profit significantly from the developments in the laboratory diamond industry. The company has already tripled the amount of carats produced within one year to 5 million carats. By 2025, with the help of the new foundry in Spain, the goal is to break the 20 million carat mark in one year. If successful, Diamond Foundry would already be producing 60% of the volume of diamonds mined by De Beers - and far more cost-effectively than it is possible for De Beers to mine. As for the long-term performance of lab vs. mined diamonds, Roscheisen says it could be similar to cultured pearls. The success of cultured pearls began when Jacky Kennedy refused to pay the extra price for "natural" pearls and opted instead for cultured pearls. Today, natural pearls are still available at horrendous prices, but they account for only 1% of the market share.
The issue of sustainability will also have a major impact on the development of the laboratory diamond market, according to Roscheisen. Because with the far better environmental performance of lab diamonds, it is possible to attract a whole new generation of buyers, he said. For example, mined diamonds have a CO2 footprint of 170kg per carat, while this is only 8kg per carat or less for lab diamonds - at Diamond Foundry, the production emission is even 0. In line with the positive forecasts for the market, Diamond Foundry has also set itself high goals: Martin Roscheisen says that in five years the company wants to replace all of diamond mining.
Unique technology thanks to decades of research
Martin Roscheisen has been involved in some great business ideas. For example, in 1998 he co-founded the email list service eGroups, which he later sold to Yahoo for $450 million. The reason for his success is probably also his innovative way of thinking. Diamond Foundry investor James Joaquin says of Roscheisen that he recognized the potential of lab diamonds before it was obvious to other people. While working as co-founder of solar panel manufacturer Nanosolar, Roscheisen talked to Joaquin about how the team had made great strides in manipulating individual atoms, but they had chosen the wrong atom and wanted to try carbon atoms next - thus the basic idea for Diamond Foundry's future lab diamond manufacturing process was born.
Last year, Diamond Foundry acquired the German company Audiatec. Thanks to their expertise, it was now possible to produce a 423 carat diamond wafer that fulfills the ideal requirements for taking microchips to a whole new level. The company achieved a breakthrough in the field of heteroepitaxy, which makes the production of diamonds for use in microchips possible in the first place. In this technology, crystals grow layer by layer at the atomic level. The process takes several weeks and takes place in a 3,000-degree plasma reactor. This makes it possible to produce exceptionally large diamonds of exceptionally high quality - and above all clarity. This revolutionary manufacturing process for laboratory diamonds represents a further development of the CVD method and has now finally been perfected after 25 years of research and thousands of experiments.
How the industry will develop and how long it will take before unbreakable smartphone displays made of diamond become a reality remains to be seen. As a partner of Diamond Foundry, we at DIAVON are also looking to the future with confidence and are excited to see how the company's plans and visions will continue.