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Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Synthetic Diamonds Are to Break Stereotypes

It's a common knowledge that diamond is the most solid material in the world. In contrast to them, there are aerogels so ghostly and nearly weightless. Both are too incompatible, but this didn't stop the specialists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who took a challenge on creating the most lightweight diamond ever called diamond aerogel.

The adjective “diamond” skyrocketed aerogel price, while “aerogel” turned the diamond into a foam-like material. As expected, this unique substance possesses interesting properties that allow it to be applied in fields like structural engineering or optics.

Aerogel itself resembles dense air, it is porous and diffuse, while on touch it is like Styrofoam. Aerogels are used in space science to protect space suits. They are normally made by excessive drying of a conventional gel, meanwhile synthetic diamonds are created with the help of high pressure high temperature technology. That is why to create a mixture of two completely different substances scientists had to apply extremely high pressure up to 25.5 gigapascals, compare to 18 gigapascals needed to created synthetic diamonds. But there was a risk of substance collapsing, to prevent it scientists had to inject neon. It worked good!

Speaking about diamond aerogel properties, they are unique. It possesses solid but at the same time diffuse nanodiamond matrix. As you can see, it's transparent. Resulting aerogel's photoluminescence is bright and the whole substance is supple. While this sounds good, the usual question asked is where to apply this material. According to scientists, they will use diamond aerogel for mega powerful quantum information processors.

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