THURSDAY, 28 JANUARY 2021
In a quest to mimic conditions deep inside the Earth, scientists have discovered a method for producing diamonds from a rather unlikely source of carbon… peanut butter!
To form this precious gem, everyday peanut butter is sandwiched between the tips of two diamonds in a piston press and squeezed, creating a ‘stiletto heel effect’. As diamond is one of the hardest substances on Earth, this set up can create the extreme pressure (approximately 1.3 million times that of atmospheric pressure) needed to break down the carbon bonds in peanut butter. The carbon atoms then rearrange from a peanut butter structure to a tetrahedral, diamond crystal structure. In addition to diamonds, the same method has previously been used to create red crystals out of oxygen.
Unfortunately, you are unlikely to make your millions by heading to the preserves aisle of your local supermarket as the extreme pressure must be maintained for several weeks to form a diamond of merely two to three millimetres. Also, hydrogen gas released from the process can cause small explosions. However, this method is still of significance because it could be used by scientists to generate artificial diamonds for use in superconductors and quantum computing.