Lab-grown red diamonds with an atomic defect could one day replace GPS systems thanks to their remarkable sensitivity to magnetic waves, scientists have suggested.
The Telegraph reports that a team at Element Six, a tech company based in Oxfordshire, are exploring the “remarkable properties” of crystals with a so-called ‘nitrogen vacancy defect’ – a gap in the atomic lattice at the heart of the diamond.
It says these diamonds have demonstrated incredible sensitivity to magnetic waves at room temperature, and are currently able to detect the passing of a car 300 metres away and that the hope is that they could one day be attuned to pinpoint their own location on the surface of the planet by reading magnetic waves from the sun. This, it explains, would eliminate the need for GPS satellites, which send signals back to earth to tell cars where they are.
It quotes principal research scientist Richard Bodkin as saying, “If you have a device that is capable of sensing the surrounding magnetic fields, it also knows where it is. So once you can harness all of those technologies into a single device, there is no reason why driverless cars can’t be realised.”