Scientists Find A New Way To Turn Graphite Into Diamond

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The graphite in your pencil, the coal we use to generate power and the diamonds we put in our rings are all simple carbon, just differently structured. It takes enormous pressure and temperature to turn coal or graphite in to diamonds. Thus diamonds are more energetic than graphite.

structure and allotropes of carbon

And once the mechanism of this amazing transformation became aware to scientists, they quickly found a way to make cheap graphite in to priceless diamonds. The method was still pretty expensive though. It required subjecting graphite to extreme pressure, about 150,000 times that on the surface of the earth. But now news has come of another way to make some of those sparkling stones, and that too from Stanford.

diamond more energetic than graphite

The university’s research team was on a mission to create graphene that would act as an alternative to silicon in microprocessors (an endeavor being attempted the world over by companies like IBM and Intel) and ended up with something completely unexpected. They began by using a platinum surface to act as a substrate to place graphene rings (graphite is a stack of graphene rings or layers) and exposed the top layers to a stream of hydrogen gas. After the reaction had occurred, they noticed that the material had hardened, just like diamonds.

pencil and diamonds

The graphene layers bonded with each other and to the platinum surface and “diamond like film” became stable. This method is not yet a viable alternative to the extreme pressurization of graphite to create diamonds, but it is a cheap way to strengthen graphene layers. But the researchers are not stopping here, they’re now testing whether materials other than platinum can act as substrates for this process.

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