Scientists have just recreated a micro-scale version of “diamond rain” found on Neptune and Uranus.
These planets can be as hot as 8,540 Fahrenheit and with pressure up to 1.5 million Earth atmospheres! Scientists predicted these conditions could break the strong molecular bonds of hydrocarbons and press their discarded particles into diamonds. We’re talking million-carat diamonds!
“Such surprising moments of clear insight are very rare in science. Usually, it’s long and hard work trying to make sense out of inconclusive data. Here, it was just clear from the very beginning. It was just ‘wow!’ And that’s true for everybody in the team,” said Kraus.
Nature Astronomy published an article about synthesizing diamonds from sheets of plastic using high-tech lasers.
Researchers in the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University led by Dominik Kraus, a physicist at the German research laboratory Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, used the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) and the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) instrument to recreate the intense pressures of our galaxy’s huge ice gas planets onto pieces of polystyrene.
Basically. the MEC laser zapped the plastic into diamonds!
“With high-energy lasers, we hope that [nanodiamond] synthesis may be cleaner and easier to control,” Kraus said. “But this is still to be demonstrated. We are working on that and already did promising experiments very recently, more to come.”
This makes manufacturing sophisticated diamond materials possible, thus potentially transforming the industry and our lives. In the not too distant future, diamond castles may not be the stuff of fairy tales after all.