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14 Reasons Diamonds Are A Scientist’s Best Friend

Diamonds are a symbol of love, but to researchers supported by the National Science Foundation they are also precious for their amazing physical and chemical properties. Afterall, there are more things to do with diamonds than just put one on your finger. Scientists and engineers use diamonds to:

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1. Grow even bigger diamonds

NOVA scienceNOW / Via pbs.org

Enormous synthetic diamonds are now grown quickly and cheaply in labs thanks to a technique known as chemical vapor deposition.

2. Learn about Earth’s geological history

NSF / Via nsf.gov

Because they form within the bowels of our planet – in the Earth's molten middle layer aka mantle – and are millions of years old, diamonds can tell us a lot about our geological history.

3. Build quantum computers

LiveScience / Via livescience.com

You may not want to give your beloved a flawed diamond, but in the case of materials for quantum computing, it's the diamond's defect that may make computation possible.

4. Clean polluted water

Via youtube.com

Wastewater is often polluted with organic matter, not just heavy metals. Diamond electrodes are now used to treat wastewater by oxidizing organic pollutants — a cheaper, more environmentally friendly filtering method.

5. Study living cells

Diamonds are extremely stable, so nanodiamonds — teeny tiny diamonds — are used to learn how nanoparticles interact with cells.
Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology / Via sustainable-nano.com

Diamonds are extremely stable, so nanodiamonds — teeny tiny diamonds — are used to learn how nanoparticles interact with cells.

6. Capture quarks in motion

Cat collider / Via imgur.com

The Large Hadron Collider uses diamonds to prevent stray particles from damaging sensitive electronics, but it turns out diamond sensors can also offer incredibly precise measurements of the timing of passing particles.

7. Support a sustainable planet

NSF / Via nsf.gov

Synthetic, industrial diamonds may provide just the right chemistry to transform atmospheric nitrogen into liquid and ultimately generate the valuable agricultural fertilizer ammonia.

8. Mimic the Earth’s core

NSF / Via nsf.gov

Apply the highest pressure possible with the strongest material known, and you can learn a lot about crystals. Laser-heated diamond anvil cells mimic pressure within Earth's center and convert modest graphite into fabulous diamonds.

9. Learn about extrasolar planets

Science360 / Via science360.gov

This same laser-induced process can also be used to reproduce the expected conditions and pressures within the cores of supergiant planets to learn more about what could or could not exist there.

10. Drill into rocks

Via commons.wikimedia.org

Synthetic diamonds are as hard as real diamonds but are much cheaper. So inexpensive diamond drill bits are now used to cut through rocks.

11. Explain a 3.8 billion-year-old supernova

Researchers now believe that black diamonds (aka carbonados) have extraterrestrial origins in the form of an ancient supernova. These diamonds drifted through space for more than a billion years before falling to Earth as a meteorite that shattered and dispersed into Brazil and the Central African Republic.
Steve Haggerty / Via nsf.gov

Researchers now believe that black diamonds (aka carbonados) have extraterrestrial origins in the form of an ancient supernova. These diamonds drifted through space for more than a billion years before falling to Earth as a meteorite that shattered and dispersed into Brazil and the Central African Republic.

12. Make dental equipment

Diamond-coated precision tools have less friction, are more durable and are less likely to crack delicate materials as they’re made, such as ceramics used in the dental and medical industries.
Thinkstock

Diamond-coated precision tools have less friction, are more durable and are less likely to crack delicate materials as they’re made, such as ceramics used in the dental and medical industries.

13. Cut through titanium

Yes, even titanium yields to diamond’s properties. Diamond tools are used to drill precise holes in titanium parts for the aerospace industry.
Thinkstock

Yes, even titanium yields to diamond’s properties. Diamond tools are used to drill precise holes in titanium parts for the aerospace industry.

14. Talk about science

Historian, author and President’s National Medal of Science winner Jared Diamond is a favorite among researchers for his ability to communicate the historical impact of scientific advances. Want to learn how discoveries change the world? Diamond’s your guy.
National Science & Technology Medals Foundation

Historian, author and President’s National Medal of Science winner Jared Diamond is a favorite among researchers for his ability to communicate the historical impact of scientific advances. Want to learn how discoveries change the world? Diamond’s your guy.

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