April 2, 2023


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This laser turns plastic into diamonds.  Perfect recycling?

This laser turns plastic into diamonds. Perfect recycling?

Due to their rarity, diamonds often reach such prices that most “mortal mortals” can only dream (or should be satisfied with small, imperfect samples). As it turns out, there are planets in which these Gems can be as common as rocks Scientists believe that on ice giants like Uranus and Neptune, intense pressure compresses elements like hydrogen and carbon, producing diamonds inside these planets that then sink deep into the core.

Is it possible to recreate this phenomenon on our planet? There are many clues, because scientists were able to do this using high-powered lasers and samples of PET, a plastic commonly used in the production of beverage bottles. More precisely, researchers The lasers targeted the material to generate intense heat and pressure to create tiny diamondsthat can occur naturally on these ice giants.

I am talking about a phenomenon that has not been directly observed because of it Due to its location at the edge of the solar system, ice giants are extremely difficult to identifyBut it was recreated in the lab.

This was already achieved in 2017, using The world’s most powerful X-ray laser, such as the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS)Which heated samples of hydrocarbons to a temperature of 6000 degrees Celsius and generated pressure from several atmospheres, resulting in the formation of nanodiamonds.

And although experience showed that this phenomenon is technically possible, the authors of the study were not entirely satisfied with the results. why? In their opinion, hydrocarbons such as polystyrene do not accurately reflect the elements in the soles of the ice giants, where there is also a large amount of oxygen, so they decided to re-study taking into account the latter. Until they arrived this time PET, which is characterized by the balance of carbon, hydrogen and oxygenFurther, they decided not only to check whether diamonds appeared, but also how fast and how much it grows – after laser treatment, they discovered a diamond concentration of 3.87 grams per cubic centimeter.

In short, the experiment was completely successful, and it wasn’t just a presentation New information about the phenomenon of diamond rain on ice giants (or more precisely inside it), but also illustrative Effective new technology for diamond production and the possibility of plastic recycling.

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