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Scientists in South Korea develop method to grow diamonds in just 15 minutes



Scientists in South Korea have developed a new way to grow diamonds in the lab in 15 minutes, under normal pressure levels. The new method, developed by a team from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) and the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, synthesizes diamonds using a liquid metal alloy of gallium, iron, nickel and silicon. In a 9-L (2.4-gal) tank, this metal mix is exposed to methane and hydrogen gas at a temperature of 1,025 °C (1,877 °F). After 15 minutes, the gas is purged from the system, and a diamond film will have formed on the bottom. This can be detached easily and used for studies or put straight to work.


Usually, synthetic diamond techniques need “seed particles” for the first carbon atoms to latch onto and form a diamond around. But in this case, the trace amounts of silicon in the liquid metal seem to help the carbon atoms form clusters. The end result is a very pure diamond. The other metals can be switched in and out, but it seems that silicon is essential to the process.


The researchers now plan to investigate other liquid metal alloys and gases, and even solid carbons, for how well they might be able to make diamonds. While it’s not likely we’ll be wearing diamonds grown in liquid metal vats any time soon, they could find use in industrial applications first.


Scientists have been growing diamonds in labs for decades, but it usually still needs those extreme conditions – almost 50,000 atmospheres of pressure, and temperatures of about 1,500 °C (2,732 °F). But a new technique has now produced diamonds under normal pressure levels and cooler temperatures.




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