An international project was recently led by Australian National University to formulate a distinct kind of diamond that is harder than the regular diamond and capable of cutting through the most ultra solid material over mining sites. The research was led by Associate Professor, Jodie Bradby, and the team included experts from RMIT and PhD student Thomas Shiell from ANU. The team also had participants from University of Sydney and the United States. All these people ended up making a hexagonal diamond, Lonsdaleite that can only be found in nature at the meteorite crashing sites like Canyon Diablo.
Dr. Bradby says, “This new diamond is not going to be on any engagement rings. You’ll more likely find it on a mining site – but I still think that diamonds are a scientist’s best friend. Any time you need a super-hard material to cut something, this new diamond has the potential to do it more easily and more quickly.” She works at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering. The team formulated the Lonsdaleite in a 400 degree Celsius diamond anvil; temperatures of this kind can only be attained inside laboratories.
“The hexagonal structure of this diamond’s atoms makes it much harder than regular diamonds, which have a cubic structure. We’ve been able to make it at the nanoscale and this is exciting because often with these materials ‘smaller is stronger’. The new diamond takes its name after a pioneering crystallographer from Britain who was also the first woman to be selected as Fellow for the Royal Society. Her name was Dame Kathleen Lonsdale. The co-researcher and one of the professors from RMIT admits that success of one such project was only possible when people from different parts of the world came together. In his words, “The discovery of the nano-crystalline hexagonal diamond was only made possible by close collaborative ties between leading physicists from Australia and overseas, and the team utilized state-of-the-art instrumentation such as electron microscopes.”
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