A Gem From an Unlikely Source

Peanut Butter Diamonds
Photo from Steve Jurvetson and Certified Su Via Flickr

We’ve all heard of chocolate diamonds, but what about peanut butter diamonds?! Unlike chocolate diamonds, which are named for their color, peanut butter diamonds are actually created from sticky, delicious peanut butter.

Scientist Dan Frost of the University of Bayreuth, Germany, was conducting some experiments to try and learn more about the inner workings of our Earth’s mantle, which happens to be where diamonds are formed. In doing this, he recreated the high temperature and pressure seen well over 800 miles below Earth’s surface. Previous research exists supporting that many carbon-containing materials (which gives us a very broad spectrum of possibilities) can be used to synthetically create diamonds.

In Frost’s experiment, he placed a small amount of peanut butter in between two diamonds within a chamber, then used heat and pressure conditions similar to those found within the earth’s mantle. These conditions began to arrange the carbon atoms in the peanut butter into a more dense configuration. The scientist then bombarded his experiment with sound waves to imitate seismic waves. The whole process took a considerable amount of time and only yielded a stone smaller than .25 carats, but provided a lot of great scientific knowledge.

Rather than using this method to create jewelry quality diamonds, Frost plans to use this knowledge to learn more about the conditions under which the Earth was formed. Using similar methods, specialized diamonds can also be formed for use in lasers and other precision instruments. Adding different elements to the carbon source used to create synthetic diamonds could create stones that are even more suitable for use in industrial applications such as semiconductors. Cool!




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