Lab Spotlight

‘Diamond Rain’ Discovered at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

LLNL Diamond Rain

Scientists observed diamond rain in the laboratory for the first time as it formed at conditions found deep inside giant planets like Uranus and Neptune. Here, extremely high pressure (roughly 1.5 Mbar) squeezes hydrogen and carbon apart to form solid diamonds that sink slowly down into the planet’s core. Researchers simulated the planetary environment by creating shock waves in plastic with an intense optical laser at the Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source. In addition to astrophysical relevance, nanodiamonds made on Earth could potentially be harvested for commercial purposes - uses that span medicine, scientific equipment and electronics.

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