An international team of researchers created diamonds at room temperature in just a few minutes, using extremely high pressure levels.
The team came up with two types of diamonds: a common one that you will find on a piece of jewelry and a Lonsdaleite, which is an ultra-strong type of diamond that is usually found at the site of the meteorite’s impact.
“Natural diamonds usually form over billions of years, about 150 kilometers deep in the Earth, where there are high pressures and temperatures over a thousand degrees Celsius,” said Australian National University professor Jodie Bradby in a communique.
The process of creating rhinestones usually involved extremely high temperatures – but the new methodology, detailed in a work published in Small magazine this month, could allow the creation of diamonds and at room temperature.
Here’s how it works: Using a “diamond cell,” a device used to generate extreme amounts of pressure, the team crushed carbon atoms at the equivalent pressure of 640 African elephants.
Researchers hope that their discovery could lead to new ways of producing artificial diamonds on a large scale. Lonsdaleite, in particular, could prove useful because it is significantly heavier than ordinary diamonds and can be “used to cut ultra-solid materials at mining sites,” according to Bradby.
“The interesting part of the story is how we apply pressure,” Bradby said. “In addition to the very high pressures, we allow carbon to experience something called ‘shear’ – which is like a twisting or slipping force. We believe that this allows carbon atoms to move in their place and form the Lonsdaleite diamond, but also ordinary diamonds ”.
There are probably entire planets made of diamonds and silicon. How is that possible?
Scientists say some carbon-rich exoplanets could be made entirely of diamonds and silicon, according to a new study recently published in The Planetary Science Journal.
“These exoplanets are nothing like our solar system,” lead author and geophysicist Harrison Allen-Sutter of Arizona State University said in a statement. Most stars are made of the same cloud of gas, which means that they end up being made of the same material, in general.
Thus, stars with less carbon – a lower carbon-oxygen ratio than the Sun – tend to resemble the composition of the Earth and will become composed mainly of oxides and silicates. Diamonds are rare on Earth – our planet has only about 0.0001% diamond.