Newly discovered type of solid carbon creates diamond at room temperature

By @vitthernandez on
Diamond Core Sample
A core sample from drilling at Kennady Diamonds exploration site in Northwest Territories in Canada September 25, 2015. A decline in diamond prices because of lower growth in Chinese jewelry demand is dulling the appeal of Canada's Arctic diamond industry, with the resulting drop in exploration hurting the region’s long-term prospects. Exploration spending in Canada's diamond-rich Northwest Territories (NWT), the world's third-biggest producer, is forecast to drop 54 percent this year, according to a Canadian government estimate earlier this year. Picture taken September 25, 2015. To match Feature CANADA-DIAMONDS/ Reuters/Susan Taylor

Should De Beers and other diamond stakeholders be alarmed by the discovery of North Carolina University scientists of a new type of solid carbon that creates diamonds at room temperature and at lower costs?

The new phase or type of solid carbon is called Q-carbon. Until this discovery, science classified graphite and diamond as the two distinct forms of the same material, or phases, in carbon. However, after they found a third solid phase of carbon – which they thought could only be found in the core of some planets – they were shocked to discover that the ferromagnetic property of carbon allowed the creation of diamond-like structures at existing room temperature, reports Counselheal.

In contrast, graphite and other forms of solid carbons are unlikely to possess magnetic capabilities, Using laser beams similar to what doctors use for laser eye procedures, the researchers raised and rapidly cooled the temperature of the amorphous carbon, leading to the discovery of the Q-carbon that has a molecular structure stronger than a common crystal.

Jay Narayan, lead author of the study, says that by applying the technique, low-cost diamonds could be made. Q-carbon is fashioned from glass and the resulting structure is coated with another elemental carbon which is made to undergo several laser sessions. Finally, the outer surface is cooled to a specific temperature, reports Themonitordaily.

Using the same technology would allow the creation of diamond nanoneedles, nanodots or large-area diamond films which could be used for drug delivery, industrial processes and high-temperature switches and power electronics.

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