It’s not alchemy, although it seems to be: a group of scientists from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have managed to create diamonds from fossil fuels.
This is a new milestone in the creation of diamonds, as researchers have discovered the formula to create them from fossil fuels. To make them, white powder is taken, squeezed in a diamond-studded pressure chamber, and a laser is applied. When opened, a new microscopic speck of pure diamond shines from the depths.
The study published by the team shows how, with subtle adjustments of heat and pressure, the recipe for diamond production is made from a kind of hydrogen and carbon molecule found in crude oil and natural gas around the world.
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“What’s exciting about this article is that it shows a way to trick thermodynamics out of what is normally required for diamond formation,” Rodney Ewing, a Stanford geologist and co-author of the article, which was published Feb. 21 in the journal Science Advances, told Phys.org.
This is not the first time that diamonds have been synthesized from other materials, but it is a milestone in terms of quality and lower energy expenditure in their creation. It happens that an excessive amount of energy, time, or the addition of a catalyst – usually a metal – is generally required, which diminishes the quality of the diamond. In this way, a single substance can be transformed into a pure diamond, said Sulgiye Park, lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences, Energy and Environment.
More Than Jewelry: Medical and Quantum Applications
The applications of this discovery are precious for materials science, industry, quantum computing, medicine, or biological detection since diamonds have beneficial properties and characteristics such as chemical stability, extreme hardness, optical transparency, and high thermal conductivity.
“Diamonds are containers for bringing in samples from the deepest parts of the Earth,” says Wendy Mao, a mineral physicist at Stanford and leader of the laboratory where Park conducted most of the study’s experiments. The new process uses three types of refined petroleum dust, extracted through a needle and which under a microscope has a similar appearance to rock salt. Thanks to these advances, it won’t take millions of years for these precious crystalline jewels to form.
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