Sunday, May 19, 2024
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How this liquid metal is used to make diamonds

In the relentless pursuit of diamonds, scientists have introduced a revolutionary shortcut that challenges the conventional timeline of nature. While natural diamonds evolve over millennia and synthetic ones require weeks of careful craftsmanship, a team from South Korea’s Institute for Basic Science has developed a groundbreaking process that grows diamonds in just 150 minutes, all at standard atmospheric pressure.

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Traditionally, diamond production necessitated immense pressure, but this innovative method circumvents such extremes. It relies on a unique blend of liquid metals—gallium, iron, nickel, and silicon—combined and heated in a vacuum chamber alongside methane and hydrogen gases. Within this chemical mixture, carbon atoms interact with the liquid metal, giving rise to diamond crystal seeds suspended in the molten concoction.

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The process unfolds rapidly: within fifteen minutes, tiny diamond fragments emerge, and within a couple of hours, a continuous diamond film materializes. However, there are limitations to the current depth of the diamond film, which researchers are optimistic about overcoming. They anticipate expanding growth areas and refining carbon distribution methods to unlock the full potential of this revolutionary technique.

The implications are profound. Beyond the realm of luxury jewelry, diamonds play critical roles in industrial applications, electronics, and cutting-edge technologies like quantum computing. With this breakthrough, diamond production stands on the brink of a paradigm shift, poised to advance into new realms of efficiency and accessibility.

Although the concept of dissolving carbon in liquid metal is not entirely new, previous methods required high pressure and diamond seeds. This novel approach brings simplicity and scalability, offering promising prospects for industries reliant on diamonds.

As researchers pave the way forward, they envision this liquid metal method breaking boundaries, enabling diamond growth on various surfaces and even existing diamond particles. Essentially, this innovation compresses the timeline of diamond formation from millennia to mere hours, heralding a transformative era for diamond production and its diverse applications.

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