- Element Six
Element Six Type Privately held company Industry manufacturing and distribution of superhard material solutions Founded 1946 Founder(s) Ernest Oppenheimer Headquarters Luxembourg Area served Worldwide Key people Jonathan Aitken,[disambiguation needed ] Chief Financial Officer Products Industrial Diamond, Cubic Boron Nitride, Carbide, Ceramics Services Development of customized superhard material solutions Revenue US $0.5 billion (2007) Website www.e6.com
Element Six (formerly De Beers Industrial Diamond) is a company specialised in providing synthetic diamond, cubic boron nitride and other superhard materials for industrial use. It was created in 1946 and is owned by Umicore and De Beers. The main operations are in Ireland, South Africa, Sweden, UK, China and the Ukraine with global sales and distribution.
As De Beers Industrial Diamond, the company was set up initially to concentrate on the industrial applications of natural diamond. Following the development of diamond synthesis in the early 1950s, the company acquired the technology and by 1958 was able to manufacture material based on a high pressure, high temperature process. By the 1960s, the company was offering a range of diamond grit products that was followed by nickel and coated diamond materials plus grinding products based on cubic boron nitride. In 1992, breakthroughs in chemical vapour deposition technology opened the opportunity to synthesize diamond films and a new raft of application areas became possible.
In 2002, the company changed its name to Element Six and its business focus moved towards building an enterprise based on advanced material applications for increasingly sophisticated engineering customers backed by global technical support and a strong research and development organization.
Products offered by Element Six fall into two broad categories - superabrasives and advanced diamond products. The largest part of the company's business today is in superabrasives. These products are based on the world's hardest materials such as synthetic diamond and cubic boron nitride that are used in a wide range of cutting, grinding and drilling applications range from oil and gas exploration to machine tools, automotive part manufacturing and marble production.
Advanced diamond products is a growing business activity based on developments in diamond synthesis technology that allows the extreme properties of diamond, in addition to its superhard qualities, to be exploited in a range of new applications. These applications use diamond's exceptional optical, thermal, mechanical and electronic properties. Application areas lie, amongst others, in telecommunications, high energy physics research, advanced electronic components designs for radio frequency and high power electronics, X-rays and lasers.
Research and Development
Element Six is a leader in the development of advanced diamond material synthesis. Research has also been considered an important activity and the company set up its Diamond Research Laboratory based in South Africa only a year after launch. This led to the company having its own diamond manufacturing facility based on high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) technology based on work carried out by Dr.Henry Dyer, who was to become the managing director of De Beers Industrial Diamond Division and was responsible for the considerable expansion of the company and it's products and facilities. In the 1980s, the synthesis of diamond using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), opened up this novel manufacturing process to diamond production. Research at Element Six's UK site at Ascot is considered to be one of the most advanced in the world based on this synthesis technology.
Diamond synthesis is also in one of the most exciting periods in its history. Progress in both HPHT and CVD synthesis is leading to more consistent,higher purity diamond that can be used in novel application areas. In addition, Element Six has acquired novel materials technologies such as ScD, a cemented diamond- silicon carbide composite that has potential wide industrial application.
Collaboration and partnership
At a research level, Element Six works with a number of universities and research establishments worldwide that a working on pushing the boundaries of advanced materials such as synthetic diamond. In February 2007 for example, the company announced its participation in a three-year EC-funded project called Engineered Quantum Information in Nanostructured Diamond (EQUIND) aimed at developing new technologies for quantum computing. This project, led by the Ecole Normale Superiere de Cachan near Paris also involves Bristol and Warwick Universities in the UK, Stuttgart and Kiel Universities in Germany, the Academy of Sciences in Belarus and Australia's University of Melbourne.
At a business level, the company has set up a number of joint ventures aimed at bringing new products and technologies to market. One of the most recent is a collaboration agreement with Filtronic plc is coupled to the setting up of a new subsidiary, Diamond Microwave Devices Ltd to develop novel diamond semiconductor materials and processing technology to create a new generation of high power semiconductor devices for use in microwave transmitters and power amplifiers that could be used in telecommunications applications.
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