Diamonds: Hard as Aerogel

Diamonds are as useful as they are beautiful. They coat our blades, sharpen our tools, and convince women way out of our league to marry us. Researchers have now managed to construct a diamond aerogel 40 times as dense as air.

What don’t they do?

Apparently not much anymore. Aerogels, for the unfamiliar, are incredibly light materials, and some of the least dense known to science. The least dense are only twice as dense as air. The gels are created by suspending the aerogel particles in a liquid until they bond into a structure. Once that happens the liquid is drained away, and what is left behind is a gel like substance often referred to as “frozen smoke.” Aerogels, because they are as made of almost nothing, act as incredible insulators.

However, creating a diamond aerogel is a little more complex. First a carbon aerogel is constructed, and then any spaces in the gel are filled with neon gas.  The aerogel is compressed in a diamond-line cell while being heated by high-intensity lasers. Then through some science like alchemy, the heat and pressure change the pliable carbon to diamond.

The resulting product is completely transparent, moldable like plastic, and made up of diamonds smaller than a quarter a wavelength of violet light. It can be used to coat glass (goodbye Gorilla Glass), or plastic and even in quantum computers.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind coating my body in this stuff and becoming a super-hero.

Link [via i09]

One comment

  1. It’s not really anything we didn’t already know how to do. Diamonds are simply purified, pressure condensed carbon. Nothing particularly magical, though making a gel-like substance is pretty awesome. Neon is a fantastic catalyst as one of the noble gasses. Pretty neat.

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