Summary

Despite the rapid progress made in the past 10 years in the science and technology behind diamond film CVD, the commercialisation of this amazing material is still in its infancy. Researchers and industry are currently concentrating upon developing methods to scale up the CVD processes and reduce production costs to the point at which it becomes economically viable to use diamond as the material of choice. With the twenty-first century now upon us, we are still some way from diamond becoming the engineer's dream of being 'the ultimate engineering material'. However, some applications are already in the marketplace, such as diamond heat spreaders, windows and cutting tools. In the next few years we can expect to see diamond films appearing in many more applications, especially in electronics. Perhaps the most likely 'killer applications' which will firmly establish diamond as a twenty-first century material will be in the area of specialised flat panel displays and high temperature electronics, for which the total available market in the year 2000 has been estimated at US$435 million and US$16 billion, respectively. In some ways this may be a shame, since familiarity with diamond as just another commonplace material may remove some of the glamour and mystique surrounding the world's most sought-after gemstone.

The author thanks the Royal Society for funding. He also thanks Professor John Wilson (Heriot Watt University) and Dr Christoph Wild (Fraunhofer Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik, Freiburg, Germany) for giving permission to reproduce their figures and photographs.

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