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The critical dose for graphitization of diamond as a result of ion implantation induced damage (boron and arsenic) and subsequent thermal annealing is determined by combining secondary ion mass spectroscopy measurements, chemical etching of the graphitized layer, and TRIM simulations. Li ions are implanted as a deep marker to accurately determine the position of the graphite/diamond interface. The damage density threshold, beyond which graphitization occurs upon annealing, is found to be 1022 vacancies/cm3. This value is checked against published data and is shown to be of general nature, independent of ion species or implantation energy. © 1995 American Institute of Physics.