Hexagonal-shaped diamond "lonsdaleite" discovered on dwarf planet

Researchers found hexagonal-shaped diamonds on dwarf planet, which have a similar quality to lab-made diamonds

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 05:36 PM IST
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Image of lonsdaleite found on dwarf planet | PNAS

A meteorite from a minor planet was found to include "lonsdaleite," which is thought to be harder than Earth gems.

A dwarf planet is a spherical object in space that orbits the sun, although it is smaller than a planet and does not eject other celestial bodies from its path.

According to researchers, the process used to produce lab-grown diamonds is identical to that of the Lonsdaleite.

A uncommon hexagonal form of diamond called lonsdaleite has the potential to be more durable than regular diamonds.

The study team has compelling evidence that lonsdaleite was created on the dwarf planet shortly after a "catastrophic collision" by a supercritical chemical vapour deposition process.

Professor Dougam McCulloch, a team member, said in a statement that the scientists predicted that the hexagonal structure of the atoms in lonsdaleite might perhaps make it harder than typical diamonds, which have a cubic structure. The lonsdaleite may have developed as a result of the dwarf planet and a huge asteroid colliding 4.5 billion years ago, according to scientists.

“This study proves categorically that lonsdaleite exists in nature. We have also discovered the largest lonsdaleite crystals known to date that are up to a micron in size – much, much thinner than a human hair,” added McCulloch, who serves as the director of the RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility.

“Nature has thus provided us with a process to try and replicate in industry. We think that lonsdaleite could be used to make tiny, ultra-hard machine parts if we can develop an industrial process that promotes the replacement of pre-shaped graphite parts by lonsdaleite,” said geologist Andy Tomkins, who led the study, in a press statement.

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