The Properties of Diamond-Like Carbon

Man-made diamonds are made in a laboratory, but have many molecular similarities to the real thing.

Written by: Denton Vacuum, LLC

There are seven different forms of carbon materials that would be considered “man-made diamond.” These materials are very close to diamond on a molecular level, created through a process called plasma-enhanced vapor deposition, but still have many differences. Each form contains a significant amount of sp3, which are hybridized carbon atoms.

Diamond like carbon is usually applied to something else that would benefit from the hardness of diamonds. Examples include drill bits, hard disk housing, and the engines of modern day sports cars. These materials benefit from the reduced abrasion that comes with used diamond like carbon.

Even diamonds can be one of two different crystalline polytypes. Diamond like carbon attempts to simulate those polytypes, with some changes thrown into the nanoscale level of the structure. Generally, diamond like carbon is used to make something else harder, slicker and stronger. Even a thin coating of diamond like carbon can increase the life span of some products from a few days to a few years.

Some companies use vacuum coating systems to add fillers. Hydrogen, graphitic carbon and various metals can all help reduce production costs or grant other abilities to the materials used. DLC can be applied to any surface that is compatible to a vacuum environment.

The increased life span of products is also good for the environment. Coating a material requires a small amount of material to increase a product’s life span, so it’s responsible for a sustainable economy to produce goods with a longer life span.

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