German scientist makes diamonds from peanut butter
While man-made diamonds are becoming increasingly popular, it’s hard to believe a German geologist has found the way to create the coveted gems out of peanut butter.
However Dan Frost — a geologist from the Bayerisches Geoinstitut— was able to replicate extreme conditions found in the Earth's surface, becoming one of the first cases reported where the tasty spread has been used to produce lab diamonds.
The scientist believes a mantle filled with diamonds may have slowed down the warming of Earth, which helped evolution. So, he’s built a mantle simulator in order to work out what elements could have been used in the making of diamonds. And here is where peanut butter comes in. Real diamonds are made of carbon atoms that have been heated and compressed at depths about 160 km. miles in the Earth's mantle. And the nutty spread happens to be rich in carbon. Frost told BBC Future:
“If we want to understand how the Earth was formed, then one of the things you need to know is what planet is made out of (…) “We’re interested in how the Earth’s interior has interacted with the surface; over the age of the Earth, that’s been very significant,” he says. “And if we are looking for other habitable planets, we will have to consider many of these processes.”
Frost and his team are not looking to compete in the jewellery sector. What they want is to produce artificial tiny diamonds that can as better semiconductors in electronics.
But first the team will have to work on safety issues. As BBC Future reports, small explosions are not unusual in his lab, and he usually can’t predict when the next one will happen.
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