It normally takes gigantic pressure, extremely hot temperature and billions of years for the creation of the diamonds as we see them in their beautiful forms. But an international team of scientists has defied the nature to produce the beautiful mineral in the confines of a laboratory, within minutes and at room temperature.
Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU), RMIT University, University of Sydney and Oak Ridge National Laboratory published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Small.
Co-authors announced Wednesday that they used high pressure “equivalent of 640 African elephants on the tip of one ballet shoe” to create two types of diamonds: the kind found on an engagement ring and Lonsdaleite, a type of diamond found in nature at the site of meteorite impacts.
Diamonds have been synthesized in labs since 1954. The jewels are usually created by subjecting carbon to intense pressure and heat. This is the first time the dazzling mineral has been made at room temperature.
“Natural diamonds are usually formed over billions of years, about 150 kilometers [93 miles] deep in the Earth where there are high pressures and temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius [1,832 degrees Fahrenheit],” Jodie Bradby, an ANU physics professor and co-lead researcher, said in an ANU news release.
“The twist in the story is how we apply the pressure,” she continued. “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.”
Using advanced microscopy techniques, Dougal McCulloch, a physics professor at RMIT who co-led the research, and his team captured slices from the samples to better understand both types of diamonds.
“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,” McCulloch said.