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Extreme Computing: Using Diamond Circuits

By - Source: Vanderbilt University | B 37 comments

Engineers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, stated that they created transistors and logical gates using nanodiamond films. The benefit? More performance potential, especially in extreme environments.

"Diamond-based devices have the potential to operate at higher speeds and require less power than silicon-based devices," Research Professor of Electrical Engineering Jimmy Davidson said. "Diamond is the most inert material known, so our devices are largely immune to radiation damage and can operate at much higher temperatures than those made from silicon."

Davidson said that the devices are not "exorbitantly" expensive. Due to the size of transistors and gates, a one-carat diamond is enough to create about one billion of them. However, the diamond film is created from hydrogen and methane and the "deposited form of diamond is less than one-thousandth the cost of a jewelry diamond," the researchers said. The cost of producing nanodiamond devices may be competitive with silicon as a result, they stated. A Sandy Bridge die, by the way, has 995 million transistors.

The researchers envision their invention to be used in military electronics, circuitry that operates in space, ultra-high speed switches, ultra-low power applications and sensors that operate in high radiation environments, at extremely high temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit and extremely low temperatures down to minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to Davidson, nanodiamond devices can be manufactured by processes that are commonly used by the semiconductor industry with the exception that the production of the chip needs a vacuum, which requires a modified packaging process. Davidson and his colleagues said they have investigated the packaging process and have found that the metallic seals used in military-grade circuitry "are strong enough to hold an adequate vacuum for centuries."

There was no information when such chips could actually find their way into a production process.

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  • 26 Hide
    CaedenV , August 5, 2011 4:44 PM
    I want this for one reason: When I rebuild my wife's computer I could claim that I am giving her diamonds!
  • 20 Hide
    tmax , August 5, 2011 4:17 PM
    Maybe someday. This technology has potential.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    tmax , August 5, 2011 4:17 PM
    Maybe someday. This technology has potential.
  • 9 Hide
    panacuba , August 5, 2011 4:22 PM
    Nice to hear that we are making some advances, I'm assuming with the recent technology that allow us to produce artificially made diamonds, the price will drop dramatically and soon we gonna see lots of diamond based devices :) 
  • 20 Hide
    dogman_1234 , August 5, 2011 4:29 PM
    There are a lot of potential applications to circuitry in computers. Graphene, photo-transistors, magnetic switches, diamonds, memristors,ect....
  • -1 Hide
    Neverdyne , August 5, 2011 4:34 PM
    Sounds really interesting for computing in extreme conditions.
  • 0 Hide
    zak_mckraken , August 5, 2011 4:34 PM
    Thank you for sharing this technology! No, really, it's quite exciting. I hope to see the day where silicon will be replaced as the primary material in computer chips.
  • 2 Hide
    Au_equus , August 5, 2011 4:41 PM
    the use of carbon/chemical vapor deposition is not even in question, but whether the technology has advanced enough over the past decade for mass production and meet the same purity requirements as its silicon cousins. Silicon carbide circuitry is a more economical alternative for mass production
  • 26 Hide
    CaedenV , August 5, 2011 4:44 PM
    I want this for one reason: When I rebuild my wife's computer I could claim that I am giving her diamonds!
  • 14 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , August 5, 2011 4:44 PM
    zak_mckrakenThank you for sharing this technology! No, really, it's quite exciting. I hope to see the day where silicon will be replaced as the primary material in computer chips.


    Lol, I almost thought you're one of those bots =))) +1
  • 8 Hide
    mjw75 , August 5, 2011 4:45 PM
    This is awesome. 1 carat diamond equivalent to 1 billion transistors? Sounds very promising...
  • -9 Hide
    officeguy , August 5, 2011 5:00 PM
    I am sure they wont have a laptop with a LCD display, with diamond ckts. The screen would freeze at 300 degree below zero. That would put a new meaning to my computer just froze. Oh, you would freeze as well, lol
  • -9 Hide
    jonpaul37 , August 5, 2011 5:30 PM
    Diamond replacing silicon? Add the gold pins and Rappers on both coasts will be sportin these chips as bling son! BOO-Ya!

    In other news, guys now have code in terms of talking about buying an engagement ring... Example below:

    John; "Hey Bob, i bought 4 billion transistors for my girl, hope she says yes" Bob; "Don't get married dude, I'll have nobody else to live vicariously through!"
  • 6 Hide
    drwho1 , August 5, 2011 5:30 PM
    If this makes it into CPU's, Video Cards and Motherboards circuitry in the near future, maybe we would see very cool computers that won't require that many fans or any liquid cooling.

    In short we might be able to see the beginning of true SILENT PC's.
  • 7 Hide
    clonazepam , August 5, 2011 5:53 PM
    I believe this technology is part of the need for electronics equipment, namely military, that can survive large EM bursts, like those released by nuclear weapons. This is cool. I just wish we hadn't created the need for them.
  • 1 Hide
    Hupiscratch , August 5, 2011 5:53 PM
    Combine this and Intel recent tri-gate and you might have something good :D 
  • 0 Hide
    eyemaster , August 5, 2011 6:15 PM
    Moissanite could potentially help in this area. It's a man made diamond except it has silicone in it as well. It's cheap enough to produce.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 5, 2011 6:48 PM
    Intel's tri-gate?
    Lol... I hope that was sarcasm because tri-gate is about a decade old innovation that AMD was using in it's own CPU's.

    Either way, this is nothing new.
    Is this supposed to be the first official announcement?
    Lol...
    They had the ability to do this over a decade ago as well, and it wasn't until NOW that this was put into circulation?

    Capitalism/Stagnation at it's finest (why am I not surprised).
  • -1 Hide
    kronos_cornelius , August 5, 2011 7:04 PM
    You forgot to mention diamonds can work at terahertz speed. I've being waiting for this tech to become mainstreams for a decade now.
  • 0 Hide
    warmon6 , August 5, 2011 7:25 PM
    drwho1If this makes it into CPU's, Video Cards and Motherboards circuitry in the near future, maybe we would see very cool computers that won't require that many fans or any liquid cooling.In short we might be able to see the beginning of true SILENT PC's.


    Well, maybe possible for a short period of time.... although people will push the tech to the point were we are at now. Needing fans, LC, LN2,ect.

  • -1 Hide
    kcorp2003 , August 5, 2011 7:44 PM
    Yep, i saw a nova episode of a top secret manufacturer that makes diamonds. The nova crew had to be blind folded so they won't know the location. they talk about the diamond technology and how it can also replace silicone technology and has the potential to make a diamond screen to replace glass for the space shuttle.
  • 0 Hide
    ralfthedog , August 5, 2011 7:48 PM
    Even if the chips can handle the thermal issues, you would need to worry about the PC boards. They have more issues with breakage due to expansion and contraction.
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