The status of “The Mystery of Gemtone Polish, Part II” is that part
II is still in the works. I think that Part I of this article
provided evidence that the polishing process is not just mechanical.
We know from Bruce Bunker’s work at Sandia National Labs that
mechanical stress can greatly change the reactivity of SiO2 bonds.
At the time that I wrote Part I, I thought I had a reasonable
understanding of some of the chemical aspects of gemstone polish.
However, after further research, I found that the process is much
more complicated than I expected. I do believe that one day we will
have a full understanding of the chemical process that effects
gemstone polish. For example, recent progress has been made in
modeling atomic level interactions using quantum mechanics to
describe the complex stress states for crack growth. These
simulations currently require thousands of processors running
simultaneously for days. (see Investigating Materials Failure Using
Lots of Atoms and Big Computers,
Currently, these models are just starting to yield results. My hope
is that some of the current research efforts will be applied to
further understand the polishing process that is required for
obtaining a flat surface on semiconductors.
– Stephen Attaway