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Nanomaterials Defined

What are Nanomaterials?

The term "nano" is a unit of scale. In the International System of Units, the prefix "nano" means one-billionth, or 10   therefore one nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. It’s difficult to imagine just how small that is, so here are some examples:

  • A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

  • A strand of human DNA  is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.

  • There are 25,400,000 nanometers in one inch.

  • A human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide.

  • A single gold atom is about a third of a nanometer in diameter.

  • On a comparative scale, if the diameter of a marble was one nanometer, then diameter of the Earth would be about one meter.

  • One nanometer is about as long as your fingernail grows in one second.

  • When created, approximately 1.5 million nanodiamond crystals will fit on the head of a pin.


The Scale of Things - Nanometers and More

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A nanomaterial is any organic, inorganic or mixed (organometallic) material that presents distinct chemical, physical and/or electrical properties owing to their ultra-small (nano) size among other factors. The typical size of nanomaterials is between 1nm up to several tens of nanometers. 

There are four categories of nanomaterial based on how it is made. These categories are listed below for general education. Detonation nanodiamonds fall under the category of  engineered nanomaterials.

  • Natural nanomaterials—A nanomaterial made by nature through (bio)geochemical or mechanical processes, without direct or indirect connection to a human activity or anthropogenic process.

  • Incidental nanomaterials—A nanomaterial unintentionally produced as a result of any form of direct or indirect human influence or anthropogenic process.

  • Engineered nanomaterials—A nanomaterial conceived, designed, and intentionally produced by humans. Detonation nanodiamonds are included in this category. 

  • Anthropogenic nanomaterials—Both incidental and engineered nanomaterials.

Types of Engineered Nanomaterials and Their Applications

Engineered nanomaterials can be classified into different types according to the size, morphology, physical and chemical properties. Each type exhibits its own unique properties and common applications. The table below provides a brief explanation. As you can see, nanodiamonds fall under the carbon-based category.  

Types of Nanoparticles Table

Trouble viewing table? Click icon to download PDF.

What are Nanodiamonds?

Nanodiamonds (ND) - also called ultra-dispersed diamonds (UDD) - are diamond phase carbon nanomaterials. Nanodiamonds have all of the positive properties of larger gemstone diamonds. They are as stable, transparent, and durable as gemstone diamonds and, like them, exhibit the highest hardness, thermal and acoustic conductivity. 


Nanodiamonds, due to their ultra small size, also exhibit unique properties which make them even more useful. These properties are included in the General Properties list below.


The main types of commercial NDs produced are categorized as high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) nanodiamonds, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) nanodiamonds and detonation nanodiamonds (DND).


NanoMPI specializes in the manufacturing, refining, modification of detonation nanodiamonds for commercial and industrial use. 


  • Diamond core: highest hardness (167 Gpa) and wear resistance

  • Highest thermal conductivity (2300 W/mK)

  • High electrical resistivity (10 cm)

  • Low thermal expansion (1.010-6 K-1)

  • Wide band gap (5.47 eV {300 K})

  • High refractive index (2.417)

  • Low specific gravity (3.52)

  • Surface functional groups that are oxygen rich and support catalytic activity

  • Surface electrical charge of -30 to -70 mV

  • Chemical/radiation resistance

  • Biocompatibility

  • Large surface area (250- 450 m/g)

  • High & controllable chemical activity of the surface.

  • Anti-bacterial

  • Nontoxic

  • Hydrophillic

Raw detonation nanodiamonds with black background
Raw detonation nanodiamonds
What Are Nanodiamonds

Creating Detonation Synthesis Nanodiamonds

The basic idea of creating the technology for production of nanodiamonds was based on fundamental research of Soviet military science and resulted from experiments with explosive substances. Based on these experiments Soviet military science learned to make ultra dispersed diamonds. The size of these nanodiamond crystals is one thousand times smaller than other synthetic diamonds. This is fundamentally a new class of materials with unique and commercially valuable characteristics.

The production technology employs “detonation synthesis” to create diamond particles with average sizes of 4-6 nm (nanometers) each. The detonation synthesis technology employs charges of explosive substances which are detonated in high strength, hermetically sealed chambers.  Diamond particles are formed from the free carbon of the molecules of the explosives at temperatures of approximately 3,500 degrees Celsius and at pressures of approximately 200,000 atmospheres.

Our proprietary refinement process further modifies the results of the detonation synthesis stage into various grades of nanodiamonds that meet technical requirements for various applications.

Our detonation products (diamond blend – “DB”) contain, on average, 40 – 50% nanodiamond crystals which are subjected to a chemical purification process.  Our 9th generation of this unique refinement process distinguishes our products from known competitors by providing a variety of optimal “grades”, achieving the highest purity within the constraints of a scalable production process, and often reducing the quantity of DND required to achieve a given result. Our highest grade material is government certified as food-grade and contains no detectable impurities.

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Why Our Nanodiamonds?

We offer a variety of optimal "grades" of detonation nanodiamonds.

We achieve the highest purity within the constraints of a scalable production process. 

We are often able to reduce the quantity of detonation nanodiamonds required to achieve a given result.

Our highest grade material is government certified as food-grade and contains no detectable impurities. 

Our Technology

Current Applications of Our Detonation Nanodiamonds

Detonation nanodiamonds were initially used for nanoscale polishing and as lubricant additives for industrial applications. Today, detonation nanodiamonds can also be found in coatings, polishes, lubricants, and polymers.  They can also be used for thermal management, as catalysts, and even in bio-medical applications including therapeutics

NanoMPI utilizes our detonation nanodiamonds to help resolve common and unique challenges for a wide variety of appplications and industries.


Please click an image below to learn more about our off-the-shelf solutions.

Truck Fleet
3D Printer Nozzle
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Do you have a unique challenge that requires a custom solution? We are all ears and ready to help! But first check out our nanodiamond suspension products to learn more about our customization capabilities. Then shoot us an email to schedule a free initial consultation using our Request a Quote form! 

Applications of Nanodiamonds


1. Natural, incidental, and engineered nanomaterials and their impacts on the Earth system; Science 29 Mar 2019:Vol. 363, Issue 6434 (Last accessed: 03/05/2021)

2. "What are the Different Types of Nanoparticles?" by Unmesha Ray, AZoNANO, 30 July 2018 (Last accessed: 03/05/2021)

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