Industrial diamonds have been synthesized commercially for over 40 years using high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) techniques in which diamond is crystallized from metal-solvated carbon at a pressure of about 50 to 100 kbar and a temperature of about a temperature of about 1,800K to 2,300K. Diamond exhibits a remarkable range of useful physical and chemical properties compared to other known materials. Diamond is the hardest material known and has the highest thermal conductivity. Combined with these important properties, diamond has very low thermal expansion and high electrical resistance. Because of its hardness, diamond is far more effective and efficient than other competing materials used for abrasive, cutting, shaping, or finishing tools. Its very high thermal conductivity makes it ideal for spreading and conducting heat out of compact, high-power, high-speed electronic packages. However, high-pressure and high-temperature techniques have produced synthetic diamonds.
A low-pressure technique to produce diamonds, using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), drew worldwide attention in the mid-1980s. There has been an explosion of interest in CVD diamond, diamond-like, and CBN films and coatings. These films are expected to be used in a variety of applications, from cutting tools to wear-resistant parts, and from electronics to optical applications. One advantage of CVD diamond technology over the high-pressure technology is low cost and its ability to coat any shape.
In the mid-1990s, several new mass-production technologies for producing diamond and diamond-like films emerged, including the production of diamond-like coatings for razor blades. This era also saw the emergence several new mass-production technologies for depositing diamond and DLC films on coated products. A method, which used interactive lasers to deposit these films, was debuted in 1995. Yet another one, using fullerenes in an argon microwave plasma, produced nanocrystalline diamond. Since the advent of these new technologies, diamond and diamond-like films, and coated products have reached a greater level of activity in their applications. In the late 1990s, another technology, which is used in large-scale commercialization, is Schick's Alpha Diamond Technology, which uses an arc process, vaporizing graphite and forming a plasma ion to deposit DLC on chromium stainless steel.
Thick and thin diamond films have advantages when incorporated in laser diodes and microwave electronic packages due to their extremely high thermal conductivity coupled with excellent dielectric properties. Also, large substrates are now available, and a variety of package designs are possible with CVD diamonds. Tool inserts with CVD diamond thick-film blanks or thin-film coatings constitute the newest tool materials. Diamond-like thin films are now finding increasing applications in coating automotive components, such as brake rotors and gears. Diamond and diamond-like coatings are also being used more in optical applications, such as sunglasses, ophthalmic lenses, and IR windows. New-generation electronic devices such as surface acoustic wave (SAW) and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) are also using diamond films.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
BCC published two reports on diamond, diamond-like, and CBN films and coated products in 1996. Since then, many new developments have taken place in this field. The biggest market development has been for shaving blades, which use DLC coatings. Some of the market segments have achieved production scale, while others are still in the testing and prototype-quantity phases. There also are several new potential applications, such as semiconductors, protective coatings, medical, consumer and sporting goods, and advanced flat-panel displays. These have warranted the need to make a proper analysis of the current technological and issues as well as industry structure, competition, and market trends. This report has been prepared with the following objectives:
- To provide an overview of the diamond, diamond-like, and CBN thin films and coated products, their production technologies, and applications;
- To identify the technological and issues related to the development and commercial production of diamond, diamond-like, and CBN films and coated products;
- To analyze domestic and foreign competition among companies within diamond, diamond-like, and CBN films, and their product market segments;
- To determine the current size and future growth of the U.S. and worldwide markets for diamond, diamond-like, and CBN thin films and products;
- To identify and profile all U.S. producers and those involved in the development of diamond, diamond-like, and CBN films and products;
- To identify the U.S. universities and institutions involved in diamond film, diamond-like, and CBN film research; and
- To identify the foreign companies, universities, and other institutions involved in diamond, diamond-like and CBN films and coated products.
CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY
This BCC technical/economic study covers technical and industry overviews, materials, current and emerging production methods, CVD, PVD, and other techniques for producing diamond and diamond-like films. It also examines and development issues, current and emerging applications, and contains an extensive market analysis. Current size and future growth of the U.S. and worldwide markets are estimated for the period 2001 through 2006.
FORMAT AND SCOPE
This report provides a detailed technology overview for diamond, diamond-like, and CBN thin and thick films, including their production techniques, properties, and applications. Market analyses have been provided for each of the application segments.
The qualitative and quantitative judgments embodied in this report are a valuable contribution to the current knowledge of diamond, diamond-like, and CBN thin films and coated products, as well as their manufacturing technologies, applications, and markets. Moreover, this study has been conducted at a vital stage¾their applications are growing at a tremendous rate. With these new developments, decisions will be made by a number of companies as to their future strategies.
In our previous study in 1996, we did a separate report on the new developments, including a technology/patent analysis. Therefore, we did a separate study with this update. New developments both within and outside the U.S. have been described in detail for each of the material categories in the report GB-173X Diamond, Diamond-Like, and CBN Films and Coated Products: A Technical Analysis. Detailed patent analyses have also been carried out for each film/coating in that same report.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
BCC conducted interviews with almost all producers, potential producers, and suppliers of diamond, diamond-like, and CBN thin film materials and their products. Several industry experts were also contacted for this study. In addition, many end-users were contacted to evaluate the current and future demands for these materials. In all, about 150 persons from 100 companies, universities, and other institutions were contacted for this study. Secondary data were obtained from the Industrial Diamond Association of America, trade publications, technical journals, conference proceedings, newsletters, and the U.S. Patent Database.
WHO SHOULD SUBSCRIBE?
This report is directed to the various strata of companies that are interested in the developments in this field, such as:
Companies involved in developing, manufacturing, and supplying advanced materials;
Developers and producers of diamonds, diamond-like, and CBN films and coatings;
Manufacturers and suppliers of industrial diamonds and CBN materials;
Manufacturers and suppliers of diamonds and CBN products;
Manufacturers and suppliers of advanced ceramic materials and components;
Producers and suppliers of advanced electronic and optical components;
Producers and suppliers of machine tool inserts;
Producers of wear-resistant and automotive components;
Producers of sunglasses, ophthalmic lenses, IR windows, and other optical materials;
Electronic, automotive, computer, aerospace, and telecommunication companies;
Producers of razor blades, surgical blades, and golf clubs; and
Advanced-material companies interested in diversification.
Thomas Abraham, D.Eng. Science, the author of this report, is vice president for research at Communications Co. (BCC), Inc. Since 1986, Abraham has been directing the market and industry analyses of advanced ceramics and related areas at BCC. In this capacity, Abraham has conducted the following studies:
- Advanced ceramics
- Fine and Nanoceramic powders
- Advanced structural ceramics
- Wear-resistant ceramic products
- Advanced glasses
- Piezoelectric materials
- Carbon/Graphite fibers
- High-performance fibers
- Ceramic matrix composites
- Ceramic coatings
- Rapidly solidified materials
- Electronic ceramics
- Industrial diamonds and diamond
- Soft and hard magnets