Diamond and graphite are two well know allotropes (forms) of carbon, however, their properties are very different.
Diamond is essentially a single, very large covalent structure whose atoms form a regular rigid structure. Its crystalline structure naturally forms pairs of electrons which gives diamond its well-known property of extreme hardness.
Graphite’s atoms are arranged in sheets of regular hexagons, which are held together by surprisingly weak intermolecular binding forces, such that they can slide over each other giving graphite natural lubricity.
Although useful by themselves, combining diamond and graphite into diamond-like coatings gives the much sought after tribological combinations of:
- low friction
- high wear resistance
- chemical inertness
And they also look great, having a smooth, shiny, black appearance in visible light. Microscopically however they resemble a cobbled street.
DLC coatings can be tailored to meet specific requirements by adjusting the level of diamond and graphite together with the hydrogen content. To reduce the internal stress, the coatings are usually multilayered and can be further manipulated through doping, which is a process of adding chemical elements to the coating, such as silicon, oxygen or metals.
PCS Instruments offer different types of DLC coatings on our test specimens (see further details here) and of course we are more than happy to talk about specific applications.
As well as industrial applications, DLC coatings are widely used in the medical industry (surgical tools and prosthetic applications) and in numerous consumer products such as decorative jewellery and watches. More recently the use of DLC coatings on golf clubs has become increasingly common.
When a golf ball is struck, it momentarily deforms against the clubface. Unless the ball is struck cleanly, some unwanted side spin will be introduced to the ball, causing it to drift sideways. If you are a keen golfer and reading this, the chances are you never quite made it onto the golf pro circuit, in which case hooking and slicing will no doubt be a familiar part of your long game. For non-golfers, any unintentional sideways spin will cause the ball to curve helplessly away from the fairway or green and often into the trees. Applying DLC coatings to the golf club face reduces the contact friction and can help keep the ball at least a little straighter on the fairway. The fact they give the club a high-quality look and feel look will no doubt also help to improve your game.
To find out more about DLCs and our available coating options, follow this link to our more in depth article.