If you thought that the ‘bling’ factor was limited to just cars and furniture, think again. The U.S. Air Force may soon be adding windows made from 80-carat diamonds to their jets. Why? The windows apparently would protect jets from high-powered microwaves (HPMs) they would themselves produce. The HPM devices aboard a jet could be used to disrupt or destroy enemy electrical systems. But hey could also disrupt systems onboard the jet itself. This is where the diamond comes into play. “Diamond is special because it has a very high thermal conductivity, an extensive transparency range, and is strong,” said William Mitchell, a physicist and project manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
The proposed windows would be 2.5 inches across and weigh between 15 and 17.5 grams. These weights correspond to between 75 and 87 carats! And these windows would be very different from the Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond is a single crystal, while the Air Force diamonds would be polycrystalline, with many very tiny diamonds put together. The second difference between the two is the time period. Instead of crushing a chunk of carbon over millions of years deep in the Earth, the diamond windows will be created in several weeks by a process called chemical vapor deposition. Companies like Apollo Diamond and Gemesis specialize in creating the synthetic diamonds that the Air Force is interested in. the powerful qualities of the diamond would withstand bird strikes and other physical stresses encountered during flight.
A great decision; it would definitely increase the safety of the pilots on board. However, the diamond-encrusted aircraft won’t be flying the skies anytime soon. It takes quite a while for new technology and devices to make it into commercial or military devices.