Stanford researchers create a faster and easier way to make diamond

Researchers at Stanford University have created a new, easier and faster way to create diamond in the laboratory. The team takes a clump of white powder, compresses it inside a diamond-studded pressure chamber and then hits it with a laser. The result is the creation of a microscopic spec of pure diamond inside the pressure chamber.Researchers say that with careful tuning of the heat and pressure, they can create diamonds from a type of hydrogen and carbon molecule found in crude oil and natural gas. One scientist on the team says the exciting thing about their study is that they have found a way to cheat the laws of thermodynamics compared to what is usually required for diamond formation.

Scientists have been able to synthesize diamonds for more than 60 years. Typically, that process requires lots of energy or a catalyst, usually made of metal. A catalyst diminished the quality of the final product. Scientists on the project wanted to create a clean system where a single substance is transformed into a diamond without using a catalyst. Diamonds are essential for all sorts of uses, including in medicine, industry, quantum computing, and other industries.

Once the team can make even small quantities of pure diamond, they can dope it in controlled ways for specific applications. The team started with three types of powder refined from tankers full of petroleum. Tiny bits of the power was picked up with a needle tip and placed under microscopes for the experiment.

The powders resemble rock salt according to the team. The powders are known as diamondoids and contain hydrogen. The process allows diamonds to be made more quickly and efficiently. The team used a pressure chamber about the size of a plum with the powder pressed between a pair of polished diamonds. Turning a screw creates the sort of pressure you might find at the center of the Earth. A key finding was that a diamondoid called triamantane could turn into a diamond with surprisingly little energy.