SCIENCE OF INNOVATION: Synthetic Diamonds - An Engineering Perspective (Grades 6-12) Print

Objective:

Framework for K–12 Science Education - PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter, PS2.C: Stability and Instability in Physical Systems, PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces, PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life, ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems, ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem , ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology, ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World


Introduction Notes:

Science of innovation

Synthetic Diamonds

An Engineering Perspective (Grades 6–12)

 

Lesson plans produced by the National Science Teachers Association.

Video produced by NBC Learn in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
and the National Science Foundation.

 

Background and Planning

 

About the Video

This video discusses some of the research and innovation related to the production of synthetic diamonds. Diamonds, both natural and synthetic, have valuable science and engineering applications that result from their hardness, durability, chemical inertness, and ability to withstand change when exposed to very high temperatures and pressures. In his research at the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, Dr. Russell Hemley studies the response of certain materials to extreme temperatures and pressures, similar to those found in Earth’s core. Because his research requires the use of large diamonds, Hemley has developed a new method for producing synthetic diamonds that are much larger than those that have been produced using other methods. Hemley’s initial diamond synthesis technique led to further innovations related to the production and testing of synthetic diamonds, and has resulted in 14 patents issued to him and his colleagues.

 

0:00        0:14        Series opening

0:15        0:41        Some properties of diamonds

0:42        1:03        Description of a diamond’s structure

1:04        1:34        Introduction of Dr. Hemley and his research

1:35        2:10        How diamonds form in nature

2:11        2:30        Creation of the first synthetic diamonds

2:31        3:24        Description of two diamond-synthesis methods—CVD and MCVD

3:25        3:54        Discussion of the need for larger diamonds

3:55        4:43        How innovation inspires further innovation

4:44        5:06        Hemley’s patents for synthetic diamond production

5:07        5:31        Summary

5:32        5:50        Closing credits

 

Language Support

To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, make the transcript of the video available. Click the Transcript tab on the side of the video window, then copy and paste into a document for student reference.

 

Framework for K–12 Science Education

      PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter

      PS2.C: Stability and Instability in Physical Systems

      PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces

      PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life

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      ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems

      ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem

      ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

      ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

 

Emphasize Innovation

 

Innovation Process

Patents

One aspect of securing patents is that in exchange for exclusive rights to a process, the inventor must share information about the process. This disclosure of information enables others to build on previous work and, in turn, leads to further innovation. On February 15, 1955, General Electric’s press release read: “Man-made diamonds, the climax to a 125-year effort to duplicate nature’s hardest and most glamorous substance, were displayed here today.” In 1960, three GE scientists were awarded Patent No. 2,947,610 for their work. Since then, other scientists have built on the GE knowledge base, resulting in more than 3,000 patents being issued for all research related to synthetic diamond production.

 

Take Action with Students

Point out to students that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued 14 patents related to Hemley’s method of diamond synthesis, many having to do with the method of diamond production itself, but some relating to manipulating the process to change a diamond’s properties. Have students research some of the patents highlighted in the video (4:44–5:06) and use this information to brainstorm a list of possible future innovations related to synthetic diamonds and their production.

 

Innovation and STEM

The innovation highlighted in Science of Innovation (SOI): Synthetic Diamonds incorporates many aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. For example, required science knowledge includes an understanding of how a diamond’s structure gives it properties that make it useful for certain applications, and how to create, in a lab, the conditions under which those properties emerge. Math concepts revolve around the algorithms unpinning the changes in matter that result from changes in pressure and temperature. Starting with a vision that relies on this science and math knowledge, Hemley uses microwave technology to produce the synthetic diamonds he uses in his research. The engineering process involves designing the materials and equipment required to conduct research – in this case, figuring out how to modify existing equipment and procedures in order to create large synthetic diamonds for use in Hemley’s research, based on the response of certain materials to extreme changes in temperature and pressure.

 

Take Action with Students

Because cost and equipment will limit any hands-on inquiry involving diamonds in a typical classroom setting, the inquiry in SOI: Synthetic Diamonds, An Engineering Perspective will focus on working with models that can be compared to the structure of these solids. Using the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry as a guide, and the images below, encourage

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students to think about how the hardness and “strength” of a diamond might be related to its atomic structure in much the same way as a bridge’s weight-bearing capacity, or “strength,” is related to its structure.

 

                      

                                             

 

To help students understand the analogy between the strength and atomic structure of diamond and the strength of a simple bridge, set up constraints within which students will build their bridges, such as providing a limited amount or type of material with which to work, limiting the size or mass of the structure, and deciding how strength will be measured once the structure is constructed.                                                         

 

Facilitate Inquiry

Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the research-based science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 10.

 

Explore Understanding

Most students are familiar with the term mineral as it is used in earth science—a naturally occurring, inorganic solid with a definite crystalline structure and chemical composition. Provide students with unlabeled samples of several minerals that make up Mohs’ Hardness Scale—talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, orthoclase, quartz, topaz, corundum, and diamond. Also provide students with the chemical formulas of the minerals and the standard tools used to test mineral hardness—a steel file (7 on the scale), a glass plate (5.5–6), and a penny (3.5). Point out that the average hardness of one’s fingernail is about 2.5 on the Mohs’ scale. Allow students to test the hardness of the minerals relative to one another and arrange them from softest to hardest. As students work, or after they have completed this activity, spark their thinking with the following prompts:

         We know the softest mineral we tested was _____ because….

         We know the hardest mineral we tested was _____ because….

         We know the order of hardness of the minerals we tested was _____ because….

         The most chemically complex mineral is _____ because….

         The least chemically complex mineral is _____ because….

         A mineral’s hardness is most likely related to….

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Show the video SOI: Synthetic Diamonds and encourage students to jot down notes while they watch. Continue the discussion of mineral hardness, and introduce Dr. Hemley’s research and the synthetic diamond production process using prompts such as the following:

         When I watched the video, I thought about….

         Diamonds are valued for their….

         Natural diamonds form….

         Synthetic diamonds can be made by….

         Hemley’s method of diamond production is different from other methods in that….

         In order to synthesize diamonds, Hemley….

         A diamond’s hardness and “strength”’ are the result of the mineral’s….

 

Ask Beginning Questions

Stimulate small-group discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these questions…. Remind students that in their investigations, they will use model bridges to mimic how the strength of a diamond is related to the mineral’s structure. Then have groups list questions they have about the relationship between the structure of a simple bridge and the bridge’s weight-bearing capacity, or strength. You might want to provide the drawings of the truss bridges from page 3 as references, or have students research various bridge designs and/or truss types. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to be researchable and/or testable. The following are some examples.

         How do different types of bridges support their loads?

         What type of bridge has the greatest weight bearing capacity, or strength?

         How does truss arrangement affect a truss bridge’s strength?

         How might the length/angle/thickness of the trusses affect the strength of a bridge?

         How might the material used to make a model bridge affect the bridge’s strength?

 

Design Investigations

Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials needed will vary greatly based on these factors as well.

 

Possible Materials

Allow time for students to examine and manipulate the available materials. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions, or prompts new ones that should be recorded for future investigation. For this inquiry, materials might include plastic and paper drinking straws, toothpicks, wooden craft sticks of various sizes, newspaper, used 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper, rubber bands, “cellophane” and masking tapes, rubber cement, and glue. Students might also need metal binder clips or simple clamps, wire cutters, and scissors, and could benefit from using protractors and graph paper, as well. For the strength testing, students might use standard weights and scales, or pennies in a cup to test the strength of their designs.

 

Safety Considerations To augment your own safety procedures, see NSTA’s Safety Portal at http://www.nsta.org/portals/safety.aspx.

 

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Open Choice Approach(Copy Master page 10)

Groups might come together to agree on one bridge design or material they will explore, or each group might explore different designs and/or materials. Students should brainstorm to form a plan they would have to follow in order to answer their question. Remind students to work within the pre-determined constraints, and guide them, as needed, to develop safe procedures that control variables and enable them to make accurate measurements. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         The materials we will use include….

         The variable we will test is….

         The variables we will control are….

         The steps we will follow are….

         We will test our designs by….

         We will record and organize our data and observations using….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Focused Approach(Copy Master pages 11–12)

The following exemplifies how students might build three bridges with different truss arrangements from plastic drinking straws, and tape and test how the structures’ designs affect the strength of the bridges.

1.      As or after students explore the available materials, ask questions such as the following to spark their thinking:

         What are the constraints under which you will be building your bridges?

         Which of the materials might be best to use to build your model bridges?

         What is the only factor that you will change in your three model bridges?

         What types of bridge designs do you think will be the strongest? Why?

         How will you test the strength of the bridges you will build?

         What are your testing constraints?

2.      Give students free rein in determining how they will explore their chosen question, but insist they get your approval of their experimental procedure before they begin. Students might construct bridges with the trusses shown in the drawings on page 3, or they might build bridges with other designs.

3.      To help students envision their investigations, use prompts such as the following:

         We will make all of our bridges using….

         We will vary the bridges in this way….

         We will build the bridges by….

         We will measure the strength of each structure by….

         We will record and organize our data and observations using….

         To conduct our investigation safely, we will….

4.      As students work, make sure they understand the importance of making accurate measurements by using these, or similar, prompts:

         All of the vertical trusses will be _____ long.

         All of the angled trusses will be _____ long.

         The top beam for each bridge will be _____ long; the bottom one will be _____ long.

         We will measure the “failure” weight of each bridge to the nearest _____ because….

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5.      Students might continue their investigations by reconstructing three similar bridges, but folding the straws in half or in quarters to form the trusses for the new structures. Or, students might use different materials but their original bridge designs to extend this inquiry.

 

Media Research Option

Groups might have questions that are best explored using print media and online resources. Students should brainstorm to form a list of key words and phrases they could use in Internet search engines that might result in resources that will help them answer the question. Review how to safely browse the Web, how to evaluate information on the Internet for accuracy, and how to correctly cite the information found. Suggest students make note of any interesting tangents they find in their research effort for future inquiry. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         Words and phrases associated with our question are….

         The reliability of our sources was established by….

         The science and math concepts that underpin a possible solution are….

         Our research might feed into an engineering design solution such as….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

As students carry out their investigations, ensure that they record any measurements and all of their observations. As needed, suggest ways they might organize their data using tables or graphs. Students should analyze their data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence their data show. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… we claim… because….   An example claim might be:

As evidenced by our measurements of the amount of mass supported by each structure, we claim that a more dense structure is stronger than a less dense one because the bridge with the most diagonal supports/trusses did not fail like the bridges with fewer diagonal trusses did.

 

Compare Findings

Encourage students to compare their ideas with others, such as classmates who investigated a similar or different question or design, or with material they found in their textbooks or on the Internet or heard from an expert they chose to interview. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as:

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Students might make comparisons like the following:

My findings are similar to information on the Internet, because I found that a truss bridge built with supports diagonal to the two main supporting beams is stronger than one with trusses that are only at right angles to the main supporting beams.

 

I also found information that supports what the experts in the video describe. Diamond is made only of carbon, but so is another mineral called graphite. The carbon atoms in graphite combine

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to form thin sheets, which make this mineral very soft. Its hardness on Mohs’ scale is between 1 and 1.5. The carbon atoms that combine to form diamond join to form three-sided pyramids called tetrahedra. These structures make diamond much harder than graphite, and give it a value of 10 on Mohs’ scale.

 

Reflect on Learning

Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t know before. Remind them, if necessary, to compare the atomic structure of diamond to those of their bridges to determine which characteristics of a diamond’s structure are similar to the strongest bridges. Encourage reflection, using prompts such as the following:

         My ideas about this topic have changed because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         I wish I had been able to spend more time on….

         Another investigation I would like to try is….

 

Inquiry Assessment

See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 13.

 

 

Incorporate Video into Your Lesson Plan

 

Integrate Video in Instruction

Bellringer:  When your main topic of discussion is molecular structure, write a question on the board or on chart paper such as “What do you think this video is about?” and play the video with the sound muted as students settle for class. Then play the video with the sound on as an introduction to molecular structure and the relationship between it and a diamond’s hardness and “strength.”

 

Homework:  Have students research other natural materials that are very useful for science and engineering purposes. Consider and discuss how these materials form in the natural world, and how scientists and engineers might replicate these processes to create the materials synthetically. Students might write brief informational articles or construct a visual presentation to share their findings.

 

Using the 5E Approach?

If you use a 5E approach to lesson plans, consider incorporating video in these Es:

Explore:  Use the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry to support your physics lessons on forces and what happens when forces are exerted on objects or materials at different angles.

 

Elaborate: Use the video to have students compare and contrast how diamonds form in nature with how they are produced in a lab. Pose the following questions to spark thinking: What are the steps in each process? How are they the same and how are they different? What processes of the natural diamond formation process are most difficult to synthesize?

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Have students participate in a “round robin” story telling of a natural diamond’s life cycle, beginning to end, then repeat with the formation of diamonds by both the chemical vapor deposition, or CVD, process, and the microwave chemical vapor deposition, or the MCVD process that Hemley uses. You might also ask interested students to research the different types of products manufactured via these two processes.

 

Connect to … Math

Geometry:  Have students use their models to determine if they can extract a relationship about the angles between the trusses and the main supporting beams and the structures’ ability to support mass. Using the equations shown below and taking a few measurements from the structures themselves, have students measure the length of each straw and use the measurements to calculate each angle in their structures. An example of how to do this, along with a model sketch, is provided below.

 

            Pythagorean theorem to calculate the length of a side:       a2 + b2 = c2

 

            sin, cos, tan to calculate the angles within a right triangle:

                        sin (Θ) = opposite/hypotenuse

                        cos (Θ) = adjacent/hypotenuse

                        tan (Θ) = opposite/adjacent

 

           

You might want to have students do this same exercise to compute the angles within a diamond tetrahedron, which are 109.5o, and relate the structure to the covalent bonding within the mineral, both of which give a diamond its strength. 

 

 

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Prompt Innovation with Video

After students watch the video, have them research patents associated with synthetic diamonds and their production. They can do so with an Internet search on Google.com/patents using search terms such as the following.

 

Primary Search Terms

Gemstone

Ultratough

Ultrahard

Carbon crystallization

Single-crystal diamond

Monocrystalline diamond

Octahderal shape

Isometric

Hardness

Fracture toughness

HTPT: high pressure, high temperature

Additional Search Terms

Diamond production

Energy beam

Plasma generator

CVD: chemical vapor deposition

MCVD: microwave chemical deposition

PCVD: plasma chemical vapor deposition

 

 

Patent Examples

5,099,788           Method and apparatus for forming a diamond film

5,704,976           High temperature, high rate, epitaxial synthesis of diamond in a laminar           plasma

5,955,155           CVD method of depositing a plurality of polycrystalline diamond film layers

6,129,900           Process for the synthesis of diamond

6,582,513           System and method for producing synthetic diamond

2003/0230232    Method of making enhanced CVD diamond

2004/0169178    Diamond semiconductor and diamond semiconductor light-emitting device       that uses the semiconductor

 

Suggest students read abstracts of patents that attract their attention. Then hold a discussion about how various innovators are improving on the process. Use prompts such as the following:

         This patent is for _____, which is related to the invention shown in the video by….

         This patent describes _____, which differs from the invention shown in the video in that….

         I think doing/making _____ would be an innovation because….

 

 

 

 

 

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Copy Master: Open Choice Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of Innovation: Synthetic Diamonds

Use this guide to investigate a question about the relationship between the structure of an object or material and its strength. Write your report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

The video makes me think about these questions….

 

Design Investigations

Choose one question. How can you answer it? Brainstorm with your teammates. Write a procedure that controls variables and makes accurate measurements. Add safety precautions as needed. Use the prompts below to help focus your thinking.

 

         The materials we will use include….        •    We will test our designs by….

         The variable we will test is….                   •   We will record and organize our data using….       

         The variables we will control are….         •   To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

         The steps we will follow are….                

 

Record Data and Observations

Record your observations. Organize your data in tables or graphs as appropriate.

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence your data shows. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who investigated the same or a similar question. Or do research on the Internet, or talk to an expert. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about your results. How do they fit with what you already knew? How do they change what you thought you knew about the topic?

         My ideas about this topic have changed because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         I wish I had been able to spend more time on….

         Another investigation I would like to try is….

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Copy Master: Focused Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of Innovation: Synthetic Diamonds

Use this guide to investigate a question about how a bridge’s design might affect its ability to support a certain amount of mass. Write your report in your science notebook.

 

Ask a Beginning Question

How does the truss design of model bridges affect their strength as measured by how much mass each can support?

 

Design Investigations

Brainstorm with your teammates how to answer the question. Decide on one idea and write a procedure that will allow you to gather valid data. Add safety precautions as needed. Use these prompts to help you design your investigation.

         We will make all of our bridges using….

         We will vary the bridges in this way….

         We will build the bridges by….

         We will measure the strength of each structure by….

         We will record and organize our data and observations using….

         To conduct our investigation safely, we will….

 

Record Data and Observations

Organize your observations and data in a table. The table below is an example of one way to record how the truss arrangement of a bridge affects its strength.

 

Bridge Design and Strength

 

Detailed Drawing of the

Bridge

Mass (grams) Supported by Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Graph the Data

Plot your data on a graph like the one below. Remember that the independent variable, or the variable you tested, is plotted on the x-axis and the dependent, or responding, variable is plotted on the y-axis. Label the axes of your graph and give your graph a title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze your data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence shown by your data. Make sure that the claim goes beyond summarizing the relationship between the variables.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Findings

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who investigated the same or a similar question. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. How do your findings compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their findings in your comparisons.

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My ideas are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?

         My ideas about this topic have changed because of this evidence….

         My ideas changed in the following ways….

         I wish I had been able to spend more time on….

         Another investigation I would like to try is….

 

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Copy Master: Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations

 

 

Criteria

1 point

2 points

3 points

Initial question

Question had a yes/no answer, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable.

Question was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation.

Question clearly stated, researchable or testable, and showed direct relationship to investigation.

Investigation design

The design of the investigation did not support a response to the initial question.

While the design supported the initial question, the procedure used to collect data (e.g. number of trials, or control of variables) was not sufficient.

Variables were clearly identified and controlled as needed with steps and trials that resulted in data that could be used to answer the question.

Variables

Either the dependent or independent variable was not identified.

While the dependent and independent variables were identified, no controls were present.

Variables identified and controlled in a way that results in data that can be analyzed and compared.

Safety procedures

Basic laboratory safety procedures were followed, but practices specific to the activity were not identified.

Some, but not all, of the safety equipment was used and only some safe practices needed for this investigation were followed.

Appropriate safety equipment used and safe practices adhered to.

Observations and data

Observations were not made or recorded, and data are unreasonable in nature, not recorded, or do not reflect what actually took place during the investigation.

Observations were made, but were not very detailed, or data appear invalid or were not recorded appropriately.

Detailed observations were made and properly recorded and data are plausible and recorded appropriately.

Claim

No claim was made or the claim had no relationship to the evidence used to support it.

Claim was marginally related to evidence from investigation.

Claim was backed by investigative or research evidence.

Findings comparison

Comparison of findings was limited to a description of the initial question.

Comparison of findings was not supported by the data collected.

Comparison of findings included both methodology and data collected by at least one other entity.

Reflection

Student reflection was limited to a description of the procedure used.

Student reflections were not related to the initial question.

Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking.

 

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