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DIAMOND sCIENCE

SCIENTISTS TAKE A LOOK AT THE DIAMOND, PRODUCING GEMS FROM FOSSEL FUELS AND BENDING OTHERS

 

Diamonds, as we are discovering, are valued for much more than their physical beauty. Their physical properties are highly sought out by industry, medicine, industry, quantum computing technologies and biological sensing. No wonder then that they are gaining ever increasing attention in the scientific community.

A study recently made public by Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory shows how diamonds can be made from a type of hydrogen and carbon molecule found in crude oil and natural gas.

“What’s exciting about this paper is it shows a way of cheating the thermodynamics of what’s typically required for diamond formation,” stated Rodney Ewing, a geologist from Stanford, who co-authored on the paper, which was published February 21, 2020, in Science Advances.

“We wanted to see just a clean system, in which a single substance transforms into pure diamond – without a catalyst,” said the study’s lead author, Sulgiye Park, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences Diamondoid Models.

With the long-used High Pressure-Hight Temperature method of synthesizing diamonds, a catalyst has been required. Often a metal, it has tended tends to diminish the quality of the final product.

NEW METHOD OF SYNTHESIZING DIAMONDS DISCOVERED

To create the man-made diamonds, the research team experimented with three types of powder refined from tankers full of petroleum. According to the research paper, they resembled rock salt, but through a powerful microscope it is possible distinguish atoms arranged in the same spatial pattern as the atoms that make up diamond crystal, divided up into smaller units composed of one, two or three cages. Unlike diamond, which is pure carbon, the powders also contain hydrogen. 

The researchers then placed the samples into a pressure chamber, which presses the material between two polished diamonds. By hand-turning a screw, they were able to simulate the types of pressure typical at the depth beneath the surface of  the Earth where natural diamonds are located.

The samples with then subject to high temperatures using a with a laser. What they discovered was that the three-cage samples, called triamantane, reorganize itself into diamond with surprisingly little energy, with the hydrogen component falling away.

The Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory study, published in Science Advances, shows how diamonds can be made from a type of hydrogen and carbon molecule found in crude oil and natural gas.                (Click to enlarge)

In the meantime, the extremely small sample size that could be to the anvil cell makes this approach impractical for synthesizing much more than extremely small stones, the scientists believe that the have made progress in a new method for synthesizing large number of diamonds.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT discovered a method of manipulating diamond crystals. When in nano-needle form, they could bend and stretch it by as much as 9 percent. 

BENDING NANO-DIAMOND NEEDLES

In another research project, this one conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), scientists discovered a method of manipulating diamond crystals. What they showed was that when the diamond was in nano-needle form, they could bend and stretch it by as much as 9 percent. In bulk form flexibility was only 1 percent.

The scientists say that flexible diamond nano-needles could have a variety of applications, from delivering drugs into cancer cells to improving the design of data storage devices.

“It was very surprising to see the amount of elastic deformation the nanoscale diamond could sustain,” Ming Dao, an MIT scientist.

To manage the experiment, the scientists used a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process, which is able to produce material coatings on a very small scale. The diamond needles were a little over two micrometers in size.

The deformation of 9 percent completely reversed itself once the pressure was removed, on condition that the needle was made of a single diamond crystal.