Why doesn't diamond show up in X-ray imaging? Diamond is the hardest substance ever known, and as we know, X-ray radiation is produced when a cathode ray of high frequency hits a very high atomic mass target. But I am amazed: why doesn't diamond show up in X-ray imaging?


1 Answer 1


Exactly how and to what extent diamond shows up in x-rays depends on factors such as type of x-ray apparatus, size of diamond, orientation and so on.

Carbon has an atomic mass of 12. That's fairly low.

Diamond exhibits a bunch of unique properties such as extreme hardness, high thermal conductivity and chemical inertness. In terms of X-ray windows another property of diamond is of crucial importance: diamond consists of carbon i.e. diamond is a low Z material which is transparent to X-rays.


High transmission coefficients even at low X-ray energies can be achieved by using thin diamond membranes mounted on circular silicon support disks. The thickness of these membranes can be as low as 1 µm

From http://www.diamond-materials.com/EN/products/cvd_for_xray/xray_windows.htm

However you can use X-rays to make useful images of diamonds

X-Ray absorption is related to density, diamond is about 3.5 times as dense as water. 3,500 kg/m3 or 3.5 g/cm3.

  • $\begingroup$ So is your conclusion "most diamonds show up in X-Rays" or "most diamonds do not show up in X-Rays"? $\endgroup$
    – Pacerier
    Sep 8, 2015 at 3:29

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