- The project is a collaboration of American and Chinese chemists.
- The New technology uses diamondoids and less energy, while lowering costs.
- Quantum technology has a high demand for diamonds.
The cost of making artificial diamonds is a very expensive process. It consumes large amounts of energy with the high costs. Now a unique new technology has been announced, which is a collaboration by American and Chinese chemists, to create much cheaper precious stones from crude waste. The project involved chemists from the Stanford University, California, University of Chicago and the Center for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research in China. A full spectrum of the technology has been published in the scientific paper the Science Advances Journal.
Physical Properties of Diamond:
- Has a very high melting point (almost 4000°C)
- Very hard
- Doesn’t conduct electricity
- Insoluble in water and organic solvents
Artificial diamonds were first created in the 1950s. The purpose was solely for industrial application. General Electric was on the forefront for the demand. However, the artificial gem quality did not reach an acceptable standard until 1970, including the possibility of making color diamonds.
Synthetic diamonds are 100% carbon and have the exact same chemical properties as mined diamonds. Lab created diamonds are grown by recreating the conditions underneath the Earth that result in diamond growth, which is pressure, heat and carbon. To reproduce the conditions of formation of this mineral in the depths of the Earth, huge temperatures and pressures are required. If you use a catalyst, the process is somewhat simplified, but the quality of the final product deteriorates.
The new technology does not require a catalyst. The material used in the new technology is diamondoids, which are hydrocarbons that have a special structure of molecules. Diamondoids have been around since the 1930s. In chemistry, diamondoids are variants of the carbon cage molecule known as adamantane (C10H16), the smallest unit cage structure of the diamond crystal lattice.
According to the published abstract, the lowest pressure and temperature (P-T) conditions that yielded diamond were 12 GPa (at ~2000 K) and 900 K (at ~20 GPa), respectively. At 20 GPa, diamondoid-to-diamond conversion occurs rapidly within <19 μs.
The researchers are working on using the technology on a large industrial scale. For now, the technology only allows them to produce tiny diamonds. Nevertheless, diamondoids are promising candidates for diamond synthesis.
Researchers used computer simulation, which aided in finding that diamondoid turns into a diamond instantaneously. The fastest precious material is formed from Tramuntana, a molecule which is analogous to the three cells of the crystal lattice of the diamond. The transformation takes just a fraction of a second. Hydrogen, which is part of the diamondoid, evaporates at the same time.
The application has a broad application spectrum. Currently, quantum technologies have a high demand for the diamonds. Diamonds have been a focus, due to their color centers for Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV).
This is an exciting new technology due to the lower costs alone, but it would also aid the quantum industries in further developments and applications.