Silicon Valley farm grows synthetic bling


Controversial diamond cartel DeBeers has opened its first synthetic diamond factory in the U.S., and it’s right in our backyard.

But this isn’t the type of bling you’d find on Beyonce.

Their 20,000-square foot production facility opened in Santa Clara last week, where execs of Element Six (E6) hope to churn out fake stones to use in all sorts of cool technologies. Like industrial lasers, cancer medicine and even bionic eyes for the blind.

The synthetic ice grown at E6’s diamond farm are generally microscopic in size and look fairly unimpressive. It’s how they’re applied that really makes ’em shine.

For instance, sending a small electrical current through diamonds can create “ozone water,” a cleanser powerful than bleach yet completely green. They can even be used in audio speakers at recording studios to get a purer sound.

Though no longer the hardest material on Earth, synthetic diamonds are still extremely light and a pain to produce. To reproduce the pressures that produce naturally occurring diamonds, the E6 facilities are equipped with high-heat gas chambers.

Head of Technologies Adrian Wilson explained to the Merc:

“If you turned the Eiffel Tower upside down and put it on top of a Coke can, and heated the Coke can to about 2,700 degrees, that’s pretty much the environment that we’re creating with these presses.”

In addition to growing diamonds, E6 will spend 7 percent of its $500 million in annual revenues to research and develop further uses for its synthetic supermaterials.

E6 chief technical officer Dan Twitchen told the Merc that company officials hope their diamonds will help aid advanced medical technology that will benefit third world countries like those in Africa.

Yup, like those whose citizens toil away in the notoriously poor conditions of DeBeers diamond mines. Chew on that gem for awhile.

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