Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Diamond-coated phones, forward thinking etc.

​First, iPhone had Gold mobile phones (or at least gold-tinted). Now Samsung is doing diamond phones. Quite a level up.

Samsung Galaxy S5 may have diamond coating: Report

I did my thesis in a laboratory for plasma physics and its applications. One such application is the surface coating of a particular substrate using a plasma-enhanced deposition technology.

When family members asked what I am studying (They know I am studying to be a 'scientist') I try to explain my thesis in a very, very layman's terms.

'I create diamonds from some gases'. Because I can't explain to them the exact mechanism, that we need to have very low pressure vacuum at high voltages using rare inert gases at exact proportions using some fatal electrical contraptions.

And they think I'm a rockstar after my simple explanation. One cousin even asked for a diamond jewel.

Going back to Samsung's diamond coated phones.

Well, just like 'rockstar'-rifying my thesis, the news that a phone will be coated with diamond is some form of rockstarification.

First, it's not really diamond.

It's almost diamond but not quite. They are coating it with carbon with molecular structure resembling that of diamond. And remember that diamond and graphite have the same composition (carbon) just different molecular structures. You know graphite, that lead in the pencil we use for writing.

At its worst, we can say Samsung is covering their phones with graphite-like material. They're just covering up the phone with pencil lead scratchings!

Not really. Heheh. What they are doing is kick-ass. Diamond-like carbons (DLC) are a breakthrough in material science. It's about as hard as natural diamond (which is the hardest mineral there is) but much easier to fabricate.

Natural diamonds form in extreme pressure and heat in thousands of hours. Volcanic levels extreme. Center of the Earth levels extreme.
Diamond-like carbons can be formed in the lab in just a couple of days (as in my laboratories cases). In just around 100 degress celsius (boiling water temperature). So there's that.

I'm interested in how they are going to do this for mass production. It took our lab 24 hours even more just to coat a 1 inch by 1 inch surface with DLC. And We used a very complicated contraption of vacuum tubes, thick steel chambers a few gas tanks, a big vacuum pump and a lot of power supplies. The entire contraption costing hundreds of thousands of pesos.

They may have found ways to deposit DLC with low power, heat, pressure requirement and found some technique to shorten the deposition time. Which I'm interested in knowing. I'm sure after many years, the DLC-coating technology has advanced (I'm just not aware. Time to do some research.)

Anyways, it's just good to find out that some research topic you know back then to have no huge commercial application is gaining some momentum at present. It takes a great deal of forward thinking to realize the value of your research.

It's similar to how Physics Nobel prize laureates are actually scientists in their latter stages of life, because society only realize the value of their work many years after their publication. Great forward thinkers, those laureates are.


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