Scientists in Australia have led a team of international researchers to develop a diamond in a lab that is said to be much harder than naturally available diamond.
While the diamond won’t end up in a ring or necklace or bracelet in a jewelry shop near you, it will find itself a top spot in the list of things that mining companies or companies dealing with cutting of hard materials require. The diamond is a result of the work carried out by an international project led by the Australian National University (ANU) Associate Professor Jodie Bradby.
Researchers have made a nano-sized Lonsdaleite, which is a hexagonal diamond only found in nature at the site of meteorite impacts such as Canyon Diablo in the US. Lonsdaleite was transformed into a diamond by the researchers in a lab at 400 degrees Celsius. The key thing about this diamond is that its atoms have a hexagonal structure making it much harder than regular diamonds, which have atoms arranged in a cubic structure.
Researchers point out in their study published in Scientific Reports that they have synthesised almost pure lonsdaleite in a diamond anvil cell at 100 GPa and 400 °C contrary to beliefs that lonsdaleite does not exist as a well-defined material but is instead defective cubic diamond formed under high pressure and high temperature conditions. Through the study the team establishes that high purity lonsdaleite is readily formed under strain and hence does not require meteoritic impacts.
Lonsdaleite is named after the famous British pioneering female crystallographer Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, who was the first woman elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society.
The teams stressed that their new “diamond is not going to be on any engagement rings”, but it will be used at mining sites as well as in labs where scientists might want to cut super-hard material for their experiments. Check out the video below: