September 30, 2022

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Ultra-hard diamond discovered outside Earth in a meteorite – space and astronomy

A super-hard diamond of extraterrestrial origin was discovered in a meteorite, confirming the existence of this rare type of mineral in nature and it is also called ‘hexagonal diamond’, due to the special arrangement of carbon atoms that makes it harder than that. We are used to the land. These minerals may have formed after the collision, which occurred 4.5 billion years ago, between an asteroid and an ancient dwarf planet in our solar system: this is what a study by Australian Monash University says. published in the Journal of the American Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which also claims that the discovery could help develop new fabrication techniques for extremely tough materials.

The researchers, led by Andrew Tomkins, helped shed light on a long-standing mystery regarding the formation of a particular type of meteorite called ureilites: it is a rocky meteorite with an unusually high content of carbon in the form of graphite. or nanodiamonds. The study authors used advanced electron microscopy techniques to obtain images of fragments of the meteorite, confirming the presence of a “hexagonal diamond”, the so-called lonsdaleite.

According to the researchers, this metal in the meteorite may have formed from a liquid at high temperature and moderate pressure, conditions that would roughly preserve the shape and hexagonal structure of pre-existing graphite. “Nature has therefore given us a process that we can try to replicate in the industrial field,” says Tomkins. “We believe that lonsdaleite can be used to make tiny components – the researcher adds – that can replace those made of graphite.”

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