The Naval Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense may seem unlikely places to conduct diamond research, but that’s exactly what’s happening. The National Research Laboratory (NRL) has conducted research of the “chemical vapor deposition” in diamonds as it relates to Department of Defense technologies since 1987. And now, the NRL has partnered with the Smithsonian to more fully understand the properties that make up natural colored diamonds.
Many rare colored diamonds are on loan to the Smithsonian, which has granted access to the NRL. The defects and impurities of the colored diamonds lend them their color and are of primary interest to NRL and the Smithsonian as well as the Department of Defense. Among the more famous diamonds being scrutinized are the “Hope” and “Blue Heart” diamonds and 240 fancy colored diamonds from the Aurora Butterfly collection.”Understanding these unique colored natural diamonds provides knowledge useful to both technologists and gemologists,” said NRL researcher James Butler. “A better understanding of these defects and impurities allows us to tailor the materials properties of diamond materials: from electrically insulating to semiconducting; from optically transparent to a variety of colors; or to provide the isolated quantum states for quantum cryptography or quantum computing.”
The researchers are also focusing on rare pink diamonds. The cause for the pink color, it has been determined, is “contained in narrow colored lamellae in an otherwise clear matrix of diamond.” Researchers hope to use their deeper understanding of colored diamonds to assist in new technologies for the Department of Defense.