Scientists studying high pressure materials have discovered something a little flashier…a new way to make their own diamonds!
Researchers at the Carnegie Institution in DC are trying to understand complex things like the nature of the earth's core, what high pressure materials it's composed of, and how that might be similar to other planets. What they found is that diamonds, one of the highest pressure materials, play a big part in it all.
They've known for some time that it's possible to make polycrystalline diamond film, but that's tough to work with. Recently, through a process called chemical vapor deposition, they've learned how to grow perfect gem-sized synthetic diamonds by combining hydrogen and methane with charged particles. They're not the real thing, you say?
Hemley: "These are actually perfect diamonds. In fact, they're more perfect than most diamond that comes out of the earth."
That's Carnegie scientist Russell Hemley. He says the man-made gems can be made stronger, larger, and very quickly to produce diamond crystals for electronics, cutting tools, and other industrial applications. In fact, he believes it'll be pretty easy for them to make a rock that's one hundred karats in size. Turns out a little bling's not just cut out for diamond rings! I'm Eric Phillips.
"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at nsf.gov.