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This New Diamond From Meteor Impacts is Hard Enough to Cut Ultra-Solid Mining Materials

Dec 13, 2016 10:46 AM EST
The largest diamond (968.9 carats) in the area was found in 1972 and sold for $2.5 million. Despite the rarity, Momoh surrendered the diamond to President Ernest Bai Koroma as a form of appreciation for all the development projects being implemented by the government in their area.
(Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A team of scientists from the Australian National University has successfully created Lonsdaleite, a new type of diamond that's the hardest known to mankind. In fact, this new diamond is so hard that it's powerful enough to cut through ultra-solid materials found in mining sites.

According to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the Lonsdaleite is a hexagonal-shaped diamond that's stronger than any jeweler's diamond. The team made the gem in a diamond anvil by exposing it to 400 degrees Celsius.

Lonsdaleite, named after Dame Kathleen Lonsdale -- a famous British pioneer and the first woman elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society -- can only be found in impact sites of meteors such as the Canyon Diablo in the U.S.

However, before thinking of purchasing it for any luxury ring, the researchers note that Lonsdaleite is not for aesthetic purposes but will be used for mining sites to cut super hard materials in a faster and more efficient way.

"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," Dr. Jodie Bradby, lead author of the study from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, said via Science Daily. "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."

The new diamond was first discovered by Prof. David McKenzie, corresponding author of the study, during a night shift work for the research. At first, they did not think much of the material until examinations in Melbourne in Canberra revealed that it was "something very, very different."

"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 utilised state-of-the-art instrumentation such as electron microscopes," said RMIT Prof. Dougal McCulloch, co-researcher of the study.

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