IIT Madras to get Rs. 242 Crore for R&D of indigenous Lab Grown Diamond

A day after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her budget speech, informed that a research and development grant will be provided to one of the IITs for five years to encourage indigenous production of Lab Grown Diamond seeds, IIT Madras is set to get Rs. 242 Crore for the same.

The finance minister, on Wednesday (1st Feb 2023), said that Lab Grown Diamond is a technology and innovation-driven emerging sector with high profile employment.

“These environment-friendly diamonds have optically and chemically the same properties as natural diamonds. To encourage indigenous production of LGD seeds and machines and to reduce import dependency, a research and development grant will be provided to one of the IITs for five years,” the minister said.

According to IIT Madras, the recommendations made by its Department of Commerce, the research grant of Rs. 242 crores over a period of five years to the institute has been approved.

Meanwhile, the Director of IIT Madras, Professor V. Kamakoti, has noted that it’s the ‘right time to set up a diamond factory in India,’ due to its thermal and electrical properties making it superior to contemporary technologies like silicon, silicon carbide and gallium nitride.

“IIT Madras will work towards producing diamond wafers suitable for electronic applications. It is a historic moment for IIT Madras for being selected for implementation of such an important project, output of which will be a crucial component of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” added Professor.

Explaining the complexity of the required R&D under this initiative, Prof. MS Ramachandra Rao, Department of Physics, IIT Madras, who will be the Principal Investigator for this initiative, said that the India Centre for Lab Grown Diamonds (InCent-LGD) at IIT Madras was identified for this prestigious project based on its nearly two decades of work experience in diamond research.

“We are honored to contribute to the initiatives of the Government of India to boost Research and Development efforts in Diamond growth to make India number one country in producing good quality diamond crystals,” he said.

Further, Prof. MS Ramachandra Rao, also the faculty-lead of MSRC (Materials Science Research Centre), NFMTC (Nano-Functional Materials Technology Centre) and QuCenDiEM (Quantum Centre for Diamond and Emergent Materials) at IIT Madras stated that ‘the growing demand for lab-grown diamonds requires dedicated research to realise not only gem-quality diamonds but also to realise a plethora of electronic applications (5G/6G, magnetometry, thermal management, sensors and quantum technologies).’

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“The science and technology of diamond growth processes are complicated to understand, and most of the machines, especially HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature), are imported in India. Moreover, the reactor manufacturers do not provide recipes to realize single crystal diamonds,” Mr. Rao said.

According to the country’s premium institute, there is a need for indigenously developing these critical components, technologies and seed substrates (mother-seed) to make India self-sustainable in the lab-grown diamond sector, and IIT Madras Research Group is fully equipped to  tackle such problems. 

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