August 17, 2007

Gram quantities of diamondoid particles

From Foresight's nanodot, MolecularDiamondTechnologies a business unit of Chevron technology ventures, can produce gram quantities of higher diamondoid. These are not molecularly precise diamondoid and it does not involve mechanosynthesis.

This seems likely to be very interesting and useful in the pre-mechanosynthesis phase. We have Chemical Vapor deposition for growing large multi-carat diamonds and diamond films and there are processes for making industrial diamond.

With more precise analysis of the processes hopefully this diamondoid particle production process can be scaled to tons of material instead of grams. Still even with gram quantities, if the diamondoids were sorted then possibly they could used to help bootstrap a more precise diamondoid manipulator. They could be combined with Atomic layer deposition and more precise self assembly.

These higher diamondoids contain from four to eleven diamond crystal cages and are ~1 to 2 nm in size. Higher diamondoid structures are remarkably rigid, extremely strong, and heat resistant, have a variety of nm sizes and shapes, and should be tremendously useful to many aspects of nanotechnology, including nanomaterials. In fact, nanometer-sized diamond structures have long been recognized as prized materials for such applications. We envision, for example, potential applications in the microelectronics, pharmaceutical, and optics industries resulting from higher diamondoids. MolecularDiamondTechnologies are focused on finding the right applications for higher diamondoids, and they are confident that numerous potential applications already exist and will become apparent in the next year or two.

Higher diamondoids occur naturally in petroleum deposits, and we first discovered them by accident while examining certain residues clogging our production equipment.

During the past few years, we have done extensive research on the processing of diamondoids, and we are increasingly disclosing this research. We currently know how to produce higher diamondoids, and mass-production would primarily involve enriching them, removing non-diamondoid deposits, and isolations of individual structures to high purity. We use distillation and hydroprocessing, skills that are core technologies in oil companies. We can currently produce quantities of higher diamondoids sufficient for research purposes, but we are confident that we can scale-up production as needed.

We can derivatize them and bond them to other molecules and to surfaces. They are diamond molecules, but in many ways are more versatile than diamond in such applications. So they are highly customizable. In the pharmaceutical field, diamondoids could enable a new level of precision in drug design, they could prove useful to combinatorial drug discovery, and they could also improve diagnostic techniques. In the nanomaterials realm, they should facilitate the creation of new surface films and coatings with various applications. For microelectronics, higher diamondoids could enable nanometer-scale components, sensors, and field emission devices.

We are currently producing gram quantities of higher diamondoids, which is adequate for research purposes. We could easily produce tens or hundreds of grams of higher diamondoids for product development. We can produce sufficient material both for research and for any product development needs. We anticipate that products incorporating higher diamondoids will be high-value products, and won’t require huge quantities of the diamond molecules. Regarding cost, we are currently producing small enough quantities that cost isn’t much of a factor. However, we can envision many ways to improve production and considerably decrease costs.