A team of researchers has produced two types of diamonds in a lab within minutes. This is the first time that diamonds have been produced without heat.
The research conducted by Dougal McCulloch of the RMIT University, Jodie Bradby of the Australian National University and others states that two kinds of diamonds — both regular diamond and Lonsdaleite — were produced.
The article published in The Conversation states that this was made possible by applying shear forces and high pressures to a small chip of graphite-like carbon. This was done to encourage the formation of diamonds.
During the compression, no additional heat was provided to the carbon sample. The resulting sample was found to contain both Lonsdaleite and regular diamond when advanced electron microscopy was used to capture very high-resolution images.
This kind of arrangement of diamonds was never seen before as a thin ‘river’ of diamonds is said to have been surrounded by a ‘sea’ of Lonsdaleite.
This arrangement reminds one of the ‘shear banding’ that is seen in other materials. In this, a narrow area experiences intense, localised strain suggesting that the diamond formed at room temperature was subjected to shear forces.
The research was first published in the journal named Small. Scientists who worked on the research believe that the ability to make diamonds in a matter of minutes opens up new opportunities.
It also says that this development is exciting for industries where extremely hard materials are needed.
However, the next challenge for the researchers is to lower the pressure to form diamonds. Currently, the lowest pressure required to form diamonds at room temperature is about 80 gigapascals. This is said to be equivalent to 640 African Elephants on the tip of the ballet shoe.
The scientists working on this research say that if both the diamonds could be made at lower pressures then more of it can be made quicker and cheaper.