One subject to watch in 2012 is diamond. Synthetic diamond is one important arrow in the arsenal of advanced materials and is an essential part of the carbon based nanomaterials scene including familiar materials in the press such as fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and graphene. Synthetic diamond films and powders, however, are also an important part of nanotechnology 2012, as it can have grain sizes at the nanoscale. Indeed, class 977 nanotech patent efforts on diamond seems to be increasing. In 2011, a record number of class 977 patent applications – 28 – included diamond in the title or abstract. In 2010, that number was only 18 and the year before was only 11. Some important diamond applications lead to energy savings and better electrodes, so it is also an important material for energy and cleantech. Biosensor applications also exist.
An excellent historical treatment of the development of synthetic diamond technology is Robert M. Hazen’s book, The Diamond Makers, 1999. A major player in the field was General Electric, which continues to this day to be a leading force in advanced materials, nanotech, and cleantech.
In the conception of manufacturing at an atomic, molecular, or nanoscale, inventors and futurists have always thought of building the perfect material: diamond.