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Kentucky Now Has a Lab-Grown Diamond ‘Mine’ That’s Producing 1,000 Carats a Month

Kentucky Advanced Materials Manufacturing and UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research formed a partnership.

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Kentucky Advanced Materials Manufacturing opened a pilot plant/demonstration facility to serve as the foundation of a billion-dollar worldwide effort to grow large diamond stones for myriad applications, including gems.

Kentucky is now home to a diamond-growing facility that is producing 1,000 carats a month.

Kentucky Advanced Materials Manufacturing recently implemented a pilot plant/demonstration facility in Louisville in collaboration with UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, according to a press release. This initial facility is meant to serve as the foundation of a billion-dollar worldwide effort to grow large diamonds for a variety of applications, including gems. KAMM is the first to establish such capabilities in Kentucky and one of only a handful of global players in the field.

The Conn Center at the University of Louisville has conducted research on lab-grown diamonds since 1997 and has a large interest in advanced materials, like diamond, for both power devices and biosensors. KAMM’s founder, Vikram M. Shah, searched out The Conn Center as a U.S. partner in pilot plant/demonstration facility. KAMM’s current facility is currently producing around 1,000 carats of diamond per month, according to the release.

A long-term home for the large production facilities is still to be determined.

“We are exploring the USA to see where we can settle,” says Shah. “Our priority is Kentucky because of our great relationship with the Conn Center, but we are looking at various options.”

KAMM is a subsidiary of Da Vinci holdings, a global organization with existing operations spanning the diamond industry from jewelry manufacturing (cutting/polishing) to trading and distribution. In addition to KAMM, Da Vinci has also operated a diamond growing operation in India for the past decade and is currently establishing a similar operation in Limburg, Belgium. Shah is also founder and owner of Da Vinci holdings.

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Diamonds are most commonly known for their beauty and brilliance with the jewelry industry serving as their largest market. Currently, most diamonds are extracted from mines around the world and sent for cutting and polishing in India and Israel. KAMM is producing high-purity (category IIa or better) diamonds, which are prized for both gem applications (for their clarity and brilliance) as well as industrial applications (for their superior hardness, thermal conductivity and electrical/optical properties). Only 2% of mined diamonds fall into the IIa category. KAMM’s Kentucky plant will produce diamonds which will then be cut, polished and distributed in a similar manner to mined diamonds.

“Diamond is an advanced material with superlative properties making it the best choice for many technological applications including those that enable connection of renewables to the grid,” said Dr. Mahendra Sunkara, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville. He adds that “the availability of diamond wafers can make innovation possible with next generation renewable energy and biosensors.”

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, president of University of Louisville, said, “Attracting high tech research and manufacturing companies is critical to the success of UofL, an economic engine for the city and the commonwealth. As the university enhances the business ecosystem through innovative research-based engagements, like this one, we also lay a foundation for increased economic impact. This partnership will drive more and more companies and startups to look to UofL and Louisville as the global intellectual capital of high-tech manufacturing.”

Hank Conn, the benefactor of the Conn Center, said, “The involvement of private sector in advancing the innovation being conducted at Conn Center is important for both acceleration of progress and eventual impact.”

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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