Diamonds are forever, a sentiment that romanticizes the stone for commercial purposes. Yet this statement speaks to the indestructible quality of the strongest naturally occurring material on the planet. Or at least it was.
A team of scientists in Australia have built on years of research aimed at increasing the toughness of diamonds, by creating a diamond stronger than diamond.
This new diamond is a type of Lonsdaleite, a rare naturally occurring substance found in a mere handful of meteorite sites on Earth. It was first discovered in 1967 in the Canyon Diablo Meteorite site and has been recreated in labs before, but with little success, given the incredible temperatures required to create it(1000C/1832F).
What makes this substance special is the arrangement of its carbon molecules, which are in a hexagonal lattice as opposed to the cubic lattice of diamonds. This means that Lonsdaleite is up to 58% harder than normal diamonds.
Researchers are now claiming that they have made a nano version of Lonsdaleite that’s even stronger than the original. The potential uses for this material are limitless, with the researchers highlighting the mining capabilities of this substance which can cut through regular diamonds.
s so strong, in fact, that the team suggests its most immediate use will be in mine sites, where it can cut through ultra-solid materials, including regular diamonds.
“The hexagonal structure of this diamond’s atoms makes it much harder than regular diamonds, which have a cubic structure,” stated Lead Researcher, Jodie Bradby from the Australian National University who also remarked that the creating this substance on the nanoscale is even better given that “smaller is stronger.”
The material was created using a diamond anvil, a device made up of two opposing diamonds which recreate the extreme pressure found deep within the Earth. This device allowed them to create these diamonds at temperatures less than half as hot as other methods(400C/752F).
Further research is needed to assess this material but the research team responsible believe that this new diamond is the apex cutting material which is why Bradby doesn’t believe you’ll find this diamond on any engagement ring any time soon.
The research can be found in Scientific Reports.