(ORDO NEWS) — Using a laser, scientists have learned how to make nanodiamonds from plastic bottles. Researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California (USA) have recreated the “diamond rain” phenomenon that occurs inside Neptune and Uranus.
Inside these ice giants, the temperature reaches several thousand degrees Celsius, and the pressure is millions of times greater than in the Earth‘s atmosphere.
It is these conditions that are believed to be capable of splitting hydrocarbon compounds and then compressing the carbon component into diamonds, which sink deeper into the cores of the planets.
To mimic this process, the scientists fired a powerful laser at polyethylene terephthalate plastic (PET), a hydrocarbon material commonly used in single-use packaging.
As a result, diamond-like structures were obtained. PET has a good balance between carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which helps in simulating activity on icy planets, said physicist Dominic Kraus.
Since 2017, scientists have been figuring out the necessary composition of a package suitable for creating nanodiamonds.
The researchers say that the diamonds inside Neptune and Uranus are actually much larger than those produced in these experiments.
Over thousands of years, these more crystals seep deep into the planet and form a thick layer around the solid planetary core.
As reported in the journal Science Advances, nanodiamonds are used in abrasives and polishes. In addition, they can be used for quantum sensors or for accelerating reactions in the production of renewable energy, such as the splitting of carbon dioxide.
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