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Double diamond anvil generates pressures greater than at the center of the Earth

Scientists have generated pressure levels one and half times greater than those found at the Earth’s inner core using a specialized new double-diamond anvil.

Popular Science reports
that scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago have used double sets of diamond anvils to create these incredible pressures, elaborating upon a technique first devised half a century ago.

Diamond anvils cells use two brilliant-cut diamonds, similar to those found in traditional engagement rings except with flat surfaces instead of points at the bottom, to generate immense pressure via compression from opposing directions.

Traditional diamond anvil cells are capable of generating pressure levels of between 320 and 360 Gpa, which are roughly 3 million times that of the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the Earth and equivalent to the Earth’s core pressure.

The new technique involves the insertion of tiny micro-anvils in between the diamond anvil cell to create an anvil within an anvil.

The micro-anvils are 10-20 microns in diameter and fashioned from nanocrystal diamonds which are more resilient and less brittle than other diamond crystals.

The double diamond anvil technique is capable of creating 640 GPa of pressure, equivalent to six million times the atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface, and over one and a half times the pressure at the Earth’s inner core.

Image courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory