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Scientists create diamonds at room temperature in minutes

November 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Xingshuo Huang is a PhD candidate at the Research School of Physics at the Australian National University (Image: Jamie Kidston/ANU).

Diamonds might be forever, but that doesn't mean they have to take eons to form.

An international team of researchers led by the Australian National University (ANU) and RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia said Wednesday they have created two types of diamond at room temperature by using high pressure equivalent to 640 African elephants balancing on the tip of a ballet shoe.

The researchers said they were able to create two types of structurally distinct diamonds -- one similar to those typically worn in jewelery, and another type called Lonsdaleite, which is found naturally at the site of meteorite impacts and is harder than most diamonds.

But researchers were excited to create such diamonds at room temperature, especially the harder Lonsdaleite diamond, which has the potential to be used to cut through "ultra-solid" materials on mining sites, they said.

"Being able to make two types of diamonds at room temperature was exciting to achieve for the first time in our lab. "

To form the diamonds, researchers applied immense pressure to create a "twisting or sliding force" that they believe caused the carbon atoms to move into place, said Jodie Bradby, a physics professor at ANU.

"Natural diamonds are usually formed over billions of years, about 150 kilometers (about 93 miles) deep in the Earth where there are high pressures and temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 degrees Fahrenheit)," she said.

"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.

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