Essay: Why is the Hope Diamond Blue

Sample Essay

According to historical records the diamond was one triangular in shape and crudely cut when it was bought by the merchant traveler, Jean Baptiste Tavernier. It changed hands several times in the ensuing years before it came into the Hands of Harry Winston, Inc who showed it at many exhibits and events around the world before donating it to the Smithsonian institution (Encylopedia Smithsonian 2008).

The hope diamond is 45.52 carats in weight and one of the most prominent examples of naturally doped semiconductors. It is due to the presence of traces of the element boron that the diamond has its blue color. The diamond has been categorized as VS1 which means that under a microscope it is seen to be faintly cloudy (Wisegeek 2009).

This blue color occurs due to the interaction of boron’s valence electrons with incoming light. Unlike metals which have characteristically unbound electrons, semiconductors have electrons which are continuously bound to atoms unless they are excited. When light strikes a semiconductor, the electromagnetic radiation from the visible light spectrum allows the electrons to drop from the conduction band thus releasing energy. The release of this energy causes a band gap which allows us to perceive a particular spectrum of light. However, to perceive this band a certain amount of energy is required to excite the electrons (Webexhibits 2009).

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