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Scientists have managed to make diamonds from plastic – Geeko

Create diamonds from plastic. Here is the feat that scientists have managed to achieve.

Under extreme pressures, high temperatures and miles below a planet’s surface, hydrocarbons are transformed into diamonds. On Neptune and Uranus, scientists even think that there is a phenomenon of rain of precious crystals. A phenomenon that a team would have managed to reproduce on our blue planet.

Researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California have successfully generated diamonds using an intense laser beam on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. This form of plastic has a good balance between carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. It is commonly found in food and beverage packaging.

“Nanodiamonds” from plastic waste

Specifically, the researchers recreated the “diamond rain” phenomenon. “We found that the presence of oxygen promotes diamond formation rather than preventing it, making ‘diamond rain’ inside these planets a more likely scenario.”said Dominik Kraus, a scientist and lead author of the study. This phenomenon usually occurs on Neptune and Uranus, the necessary hydrocarbons being located about 5,000 miles, or 8,000 km, below the surface of the two icy giant planets.

During this “shower”, the rain droplets contain a temperature of about several thousand degrees and a pressure a million times greater than that of the Earth’s atmosphere. When a high-powered optical laser fired at PET plastic and heated it to over 6,000 degrees Celsius in a lab, it generated diamond-like structures. These contain the same elements of carbon and hydrogen found on Neptune and Uranus.

What’s the point ?

The results were published in the journal Science Advances. “Recent laser shock experiments on polystyrene [PS ; (C8H8)n]combined with radiographic techniques, provided the first in situ evidence for the formation of diamonds in hydrocarbons compressed to planet-relevant states in the laboratory (12-14)”writes the team of scientists.

Apart from being luxurious, the final product has many practical applications. For example, in the field of medical sensors and drug delivery. This recycling process could also help limit plastic waste. Note that the few billion crystallites recovered in a single X-ray shot, or a few micrograms, are not enough for applications such as highly sensitive diamond quantum sensors or chemical catalysts, according to Kraus.

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