Diamonds may sparkle on the hand, but they really shine under pressure. Diamond’s durability—it is the hardest naturally occurring mineral—and its superior mechanical and thermal properties, make it ideal for tough industrial jobs, such as heavy grinding and fine cutting.
That is why far more diamonds are created synthetically each year than mined from the ground, although the creation process is roughly the same: applying high temperatures and high pressures to graphite.
UAB’s Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., takes a different approach. Vohra, a University Scholar, professor in the Department of Physics, and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, “grows” diamonds by mixing methane with hydrogen in a process called microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition. These vapor-deposited coatings can then be applied to a variety of products in a way that previously was not technically feasible or economically viable.