Diamond electronic devices pave way for lower cost renewable energy

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Durham based Evince Technology says it has developed the worlds first commercial diamond electronic device.

Dr Neil Loxley, Evince Technology Chairman, said: "Diamond is often perceived as the ultimate electronic material but its commercial development has been restricted as developers have attempted to make it work in the same way as a classic silicon semiconductor. By contrast, the Evince solution uses a radically different and elegant solution that exploits the fundamental properties of diamond." The solid state device can switch voltages in excess of 15,000V and is expected to halve the cost of power control systems. Once fully developed, the new class of diamond devices could make silicon switches obsolete. Silicon is most commonly used in modern power switching devices but can only handle up to 3,300V. The device has been demonstrated using a diode based on Evince Technology's proprietary diamond technology and is a major milestone in efforts to create products capable of controlling power at utility distribution voltages. The company plans to release its first commercial product in late 2010, a 10,000V fast recovery diode that will significantly improve the performance of existing high voltage silicon based switching devices. The technology could pave the way for cheaper renewable electricity by enabling the roll out of 'smart grids'. These will allow wind, tidal and wave devices to be connected to any point on the national grid, something that is not currently economically viable. Dr Gareth Taylor, Evince Technology chief executive officer, said: "Evince's diamond electronic switches are likely to be the first devices worldwide capable of switching at utility distribution voltages and will have a dramatic impact on energy generation costs. This, in turn, will make renewable energy a much more affordable alternative. "The diodes we are developing also represent an enabling technology for smart grids, renewable power and rail and marine traction drive systems. The ability to switch greater than 15,000V in a single Evince device is expected to halve the cost of power control systems."