Scientists Create Diamonds in Minutes at Room Temperature
Typically, traditional diamonds are created over billions of years deep within the Earth, requiring extreme pressure and heat to come to life.
Now, an international team of researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) and RMIT University in Australia discovered a new way to create ultra-hard diamonds in a matter of minutes, and without using heat.
Their findings were published in the journal Small on November 4.
This new technique may sound ideal for jewelers and those looking to get engaged, but it's not that kind of diamond.
The lab-created diamond would be more useful for tools used to cut through incredibly tough materials, as a new type of protective coating, or other industrial devices that require toughness, New Atlas reports.
The team fell upon its discovery by using a diamond anvil cell, which creates extremely strong pressures, that created a surprising reaction in the carbon atoms in the device.
Jodie Bradby, ANU professor, said the team nearly missed its discovery, and that "The twist in the story is how we apply the pressure."
"As well as very high pressures, we allow the carbon to also experience something called ‘shear’ – which is like a twisting or sliding force. We think this allows the carbon atoms to move into place and form Lonsdaleite and regular diamond," she continued.
Typically, Lonsdaleite diamonds can be found in meteorite impact craters.
In its discovery, the team found the diamonds formed in bands that resemble rivers. "Seeing these little ‘rivers’ of Lonsdaleite and regular diamond for the first time was just amazing and really helps us understand how they might form," explained RMIT professor Dougal McCulloch.
The team now hopes to create larger quantities of these artificial diamonds, as "Lonsdaleite has the potential to be used for cutting through ultra-solid materials on mining sites," Bradby said. A method that would prove useful in a number of industries.