Booming firm wants 60 diamond geezers

Dr Carlton Dodge, R7D special projects manager at Element Six, with a polycrystalline diamond road planing pick on the left and a synthetic diamond tweeter from a £10,000 Bowers & Wilkins audio speaker on the right

A synthetic diamond optical window used in high power lasers

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , covering business and Books Editor. Call me on 01865 425461

DIAMONDS are forever, and now 60 scientists and technicians are being recruited in Oxfordshire to find new ways of making them last even longer.

A £20m hi-tech lab to research industrial diamond synthesis has just been completed at Harwell.

It will house the 100-strong workforce of a new innovation centre for Element Six – part of South African diamond group De Beers – although the products are very different to the sparkling stones set in rings.

Instead they will develop synthetic diamonds – valued for their extreme hardness – which have a range of uses from car factory lasers to longer-lasting road drills.

Element Six chief executive Cyrus Jilla said Harwell was “the best location globally” for the research centre.

He added: “It will deliver higher performance products for our customers, new applications and markets, inspire and spur new related businesses in the UK and provide an extremely rewarding environment for our scientists, who are at the forefront of their field.”

The 53,986 sq ft state-of-the-art building, completed on time and on budget by builders Bowmer & Kirkland for property group Goodman, will be the world’s largest and most sophisticated synthetic diamond innovation facility.

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Staff, including special projects manager Dr Carlton Dodge, will be moving in gradually over the next few months. About 40 will come from Ascot and other Element Six sites, with a recruitment drive ongoing for the others.

The name Element Six is a reference to carbon, the sixth element of the periodic table. Diamonds are crystals formed from carbon.

Group innovation director Steve Coe said the jobs would provide a “fantastic opening for innovators to join a world-leading company, with all the exciting associated career opportunities.”

He added: “We are offering the rare chance to help establish a world-class innovation facility and develop state-of-the-art products and technology which will deliver extreme performance in the most demanding of applications.”

Goodman managing director Jim Johnston said: “Reaching practical completion on this high-profile building is a considerable step towards welcoming Element Six to Harwell, which has already built a strong scientific reputation, and is now also developing a reputation as a global location for business.”

Element Six chose Harwell last year with support from UK Trade & Investment, when business minister Vince Cable welcomed “a world-class research and development facility”.

Element Six won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation last year for a synthetic diamond speaker dome used in some Bowers & Wilkins’ loudspeakers.

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