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Didcot, England (16th April 2018) Students from two schools in Oxfordshire have gained hands-on insights into the properties and uses of synthetic diamonds in a series of educational visits to Element Six’s Global Innovation Centre on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. Element Six is a world leader in synthetic diamonds and other supermaterials and a member of the De Beers Group of Companies.
Over the last three months, female students from Matthew Arnold School, Oxford, have been learning about the growth, processing and testing of synthetic diamond. Three Year 9 students have now undertaken three visits to Element Six and presented their findings on diamond applications for mobile phones. They were supported by Dr Matthew Markham, Principal Research Scientist and Dr Rachael Ambury, Senior Scientist, both from Element Six.
The students were part of the Ingenious Project, an awards scheme funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering.
As part of their interactive learning sessions, the students made use of a thermal imaging camera to see how diamond compares to glass and silicon when used as a ‘thermal window’. They also conducted a series of experiments using a diamond disc and block of ice, highlighting diamond’s extraordinary thermal conductivity.
Experiments with a Raspberry Pi, a small single-board computer used to teach basic computer science in schools, demonstrated how diamond draws heat away from a central processing unit, comparing results with other heat sink and heat spreader methods. The students also visited Element Six’s Fast Prototype Processing lab, to see how diamond-based materials are processed.
Dr Rachael Ambury, Senior Scientist at Element Six, said: “Element Six has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we have been delighted to support these local schoolgirls in their pursuit of science. The students have expanded their knowledge of diamond and its possible applications through practical experimentation and laboratory visits and the final presentations demonstrated how much they learnt.”
In addition, Element Six recently welcomed a group from Didcot Girls School, who heard personal career stories from several of the company’s female scientists and experienced some of the work undertaken at the company’s Global Innovation Centre.
Dr Lynn Nickerson, STEM Coordinator for Didcot Girls, said: “We found the visit very beneficial as it linked concepts, which the students have recently studied in lessons (the structures and properties of diamond and graphite), to their real-life applications. It also allowed the girls to have hands-on experience of these materials and to extend their knowledge beyond the curriculum.”
As part of their tour, the students spent time at Element Six’s Experience Centre, with practical demonstrations of diamond’s unique properties and diverse applications.
Dr Nickerson explained that the visit complemented the work Didcot Girls is doing on encouraging students to consider STEM careers: “It showed them role models and let them hear about the various routes into their current roles, as well as allowing the girls to see what a STEM workplace is like and what a STEM job might involve.”
Element Six continues to support STEM subjects within schools to show students the possibilities that exist within a career in science.
Dr Ambury commented: “We always seek to work with students in a practical, fun and engaging way, demonstrating our genuine passion for science and innovation.”