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Nano-Crystalline Hexagonal Diamond Uncovered, Harder Than The Regular Diamond

First Posted: Dec 14, 2016 02:50 AM EST
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The known hardest and toughest mineral on Earth is the diamond. This is exceeded by the discovery of the nano-crystalline hexagonal diamond, which is harder than the regular diamond.

The discovery was printed in the Scientific Reports. It was led by scientists from the Australian National University (ANU). They made a diamond that is harder than the jeweler's diamond and could be used to cut ultra-solid objects in mining sites.

Dr. Jodie Bradby, one of the scientists from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, said that this new diamond is not going to be on any engagement rings. She further said that one will more likely find it on a mining site. She added that anytime people need a tough material to cut something, this new diamond has the potential to do it more easily and more quickly.

So, how do they come up with this toughest diamond? The scientists made a nano-sized Lonsdaleite, which is a hexagonal diamond that could only be found in nature at the site of meteorite impacts like the Canyon Diablo in the United States. They used a device known as a diamond anvil, and they created the Lonsdaleite in a diamond anvil at 400 degrees Celsius in their laboratory. The diamond anvil is made up of two diamonds opposing each other to recreate the high pressures that could be found deep down inside Earth, according to Science Alert.

Dr. Bradby explained that the hexagonal structure of this diamond's atoms makes it much harder than regular diamonds, which have a cubic structure. They have been able to make it at the nano-scale and this is exciting because often, with these materials, "smaller is stronger."

Meanwhile, Professor Dougal McCulloch, a co-researcher at RMIT, said that the discovery of the nano-crystalline hexagonal diamond was only made possible by close partnership ties between leading physicist from Australia and overseas, and the team utilized state-of-the-art instrumentation such as electron microscopes. He further said that the partnership of world-leading experts leads to the success of the project, according to Phys.org.

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