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Scientists Discover Revolutionary Method for Growing Diamonds at Normal Pressure

For diamond growers, the future appears promising, with a groundbreaking experimental method recently published. Scientists have successfully cultivated diamonds under standard Earth pressure conditions, eliminating the need for seed diamonds typically required in the process.

Should this approach prove cost-effective for the jewelry industry, it could revolutionize synthetic and lab-grown diamond production methods. Moreover, its simpler setup for achieving high pressure may reduce costs compared to current techniques. If we can produce diamonds without mimicking their natural formation deep within the Earth, it raises intriguing possibilities for future applications.

In this experiment, detailed in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, a team of South Korean scientists mixed carbon atoms into a hot bath of various elements. A molten concoction of gallium, iron, nickel, and silicon was heated to approximately 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit in a lab crucible. Notably, the mixture had to be prepared as compounds or alloys, as the melting points of three of the four ingredients exceed 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (gallium melts at about 85 degrees Fahrenheit). Methane was activated as a carbon source, allowing carbon atoms to bind together. Silicon in the liquid metal facilitated the clustering of carbon atoms for nucleation—the process by which a core forms and continues to grow until reaching critical mass. This method diverges from existing diamond seeding methods, which rely on higher temperatures or combustion and necessitate a seed crystal from an existing diamond.

Carbon, a fundamental element, exhibits remarkable versatility, with diamond being one of its hardest and rarest forms. The transformation of individual carbon atoms into diamond crystals appears almost miraculous, given the myriad shapes and formats they can adopt before crystallizing. It’s akin to a penny skipping over coin sorter slots until declared a half dollar.

However, there’s a caveat. While this scientific breakthrough is promising, it may currently be limited to growing diamond films, which find extensive applications in various scientific fields. These films, while versatile, differ from traditional diamond jewelry. Nevertheless, researchers suggest that their method could potentially produce seed crystals for other diamond creation techniques.

di Il Quotidiano Online

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