Scientists have just made a fascinating discovery: by studying the diamonds hidden inside an ancient meteorite, they have updated a still unknown structure. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) magazine.
The meteorite studied here is the famous Canyon Diablo, which crashed into Earth about 50,000 years ago, falling in the middle of Arizona. Inside, scientists have found numerous diamonds, known as lonsdaleite, which form under extremely high pressures and temperatures – such as when extraterrestrial rock violently strikes Earth. By analyzing the very structure of these diamonds, scientists have found something strange.
Usually, the crystal structure of lonsdaleite is purely hexagonal. Here, none of that. Its structure is completely turned upside down by excrescences (or diaphites) of a carbon-based material, graphene, which intertwines with the diamond in a funny way, never before observed. A new structure, whose unique properties could prove very useful, adds ScienceAlert.
As the scientific media explains, graphene is an extraordinary material. It is transparent, highly conductive, as light as a feather and as strong as a diamond. Qualities that suggest many potential applications, particularly in the field of electronics, with ultra-fast charging for example.
This discovery also allows scientists to better understand how this strange material is formed. Pressures, temperatures… by analyzing the history of the meteorite, they will be able to establish a manufacturing process to reproduce this complex structure in the laboratory.