Supercomputer suggests 'super diamonds' could exist in space

Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring materials on Earth, but a supercomputer has designed things even harder. The theoretical substance called superdiamonds could exist beyond our planet, and may one day be created here on Earth.

Like regular diamonds, premium diamonds are composed of carbon atoms. This specific phase of carbon, made up of eight atoms, must be stable under ambient conditions. In other words, it can be found on Earth's laboratory.

The specific phase, called BC8, is a high-pressure phase commonly found in silicon and germanium. As the new model suggests, carbon could also be present at this particular stage.

border– The fastest and first exascale supercomputer – modeled the evolution of billions of carbon atoms placed under enormous pressures. The supercomputer predicted that BC8 carbon is 30% more resistant to pressure than regular diamond. The team's research describing super-solid objects was recent published in Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

“Despite numerous efforts to synthesize this elusive carbon crystalline phase, including previous National Ignition Facility (NIF) campaigns, it has never been observed,” said study co-author Marius Mellot, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). after”. laboratory launch. “But we think it might exist on carbon-rich exoplanets.”

This is not the first possible evidence of the presence of very solid materials in the depths of space. In 2022, a team of researchers found evidence that lonsdaleite –A rare form of diamond– It can be found in meteorite fragments that fall to Earth.

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Space observatories Like the Webb Space Telescope Revealing carbon-rich exoplanets like never before. beyond the web, NASA has plans for an observatory of habitable worldsIt is a next-generation space telescope that could be operational by the early 2040s.

But scientists, sensibly, are not waiting to get a better look at such distant worlds, especially since superdiamonds only form in high-pressure environments. That is to say, in the core of these exoplanets.

“The extreme conditions prevailing within these carbon-rich exoplanets may give rise to skeletal forms of carbon such as diamonds and BC8,” said Ivan Oleinik, a physicist at the University of South Florida and lead author of the paper, in the same release. “Therefore, an in-depth understanding of the properties of the BC8 carbon phase becomes crucial for developing accurate interior models of these exoplanets.”

It may be possible to grow such super-diamonds in a laboratory setting. Recently. However, to achieve this, the team must first explore what is possible through LLNL's National Ignition Facility (NIF), the same facility where Achieve a net energy gain in a fusion reaction In 2022, and Again last year.

This research will be conducted through NIF Discovery Science program. So, when it comes to super-quality lab-grown diamonds, my advice is not to hold your breath. But things can get heated in materials science.

more: Nuclear fusion scientists have succeeded in recreating the net energy gain

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