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"Ideal" diamond has the highest acoustic velocity of any material known, and is of great interest as a substrate material for high frequency surface acoustic wave (SAW) device structures. However, little is known of the acoustic wave propagation properties of polycrystalline diamond grown by chemical vapour deposition (CVD) techniques, the commercially accessible form of this material. We report on propagation of laser-generated SAW on three forms of freestanding CVD diamond samples, "white" polycrystalline, "black" polycrystalline, and "highly oriented" diamond. Despite differing sample nature, SAW waves propagating along the smooth (nucleation) side of the diamond showed similar velocities in the range 10600-11900 ms/sup -1/. These results are discussed in terms of the potential of each form of CVD diamond for SAW device fabrication.