Recently, diamonds have been a hot topic in science news. Every week, it seems that there is yet another scientific breakthrough showing how diamonds are much more than just a beautiful gemstone. From medicine to deep space and deep earth, diamonds are proving their worth as a powerful agent for change in civilization. From the earliest ancient tradition, when it was believed that diamonds contained supernatural power, all the way to today, when scientists are discovering daily just how powerful diamond matter really is, here are 5 ways that diamonds are changing the world, right now:
Diamonds as Medical Implants
Diamonds may soon be worn inside the body, as part of diamond-coated titanium material that was recently developed in Australia. The new material was produced by coating a 3D-printed titanium medical implant with fine synthetic diamonds, using a microwave based heating chamber. This could prove to be a gamechanger in the medical implant industry, as diamond is more compatible with the human body than pure titanium. Diamond coated implants may be the solution to help reduce infection and make medical implants more viable and effective.
Diamonds Supporting Space Communication
Ever heard of masers? A maser is "microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation" and it’s the forerunner to laser. It's been around since 1954, and is used in space communication and radio astronomy. The problem is that maser only functions when cooled to nearly zero degrees, which hampers the functioning of maser to just a fraction of a second. Recently, researchers in London developed a method using diamond and sapphire that enables maser to function continuously at room temperature. Diamonds are a girl's best friend – and astronomers'.
Diamonds as Geological Marker
From outer space to the deep mantle of the earth, diamonds are making a difference everywhere. Scientists recently discovered that water resides hundreds of kilometers beneath the earth's surface, much deeper than was thought. The water was found trapped inside inclusions in deep-mantle diamonds that were examined by the scientific team. They were not expecting to find this 'water ice' in the diamonds, yet, as Steven Jacobsen, a mineral physicist at Northwestern University put it, “Diamond is a remarkable vessel for sampling the geochemistry of the deep mantle because of its ability to seal off trapped inclusions from the reactive environment during ascent, like a tiny indestructible spaceship.” Who knew inclusions could be so valuable?
Diamonds as a New Form of Financial Trading
The problem with diamond trading is that every diamond is unique, with infinite variables that can affect its value. For example, every gram of gold is worth the same amount of money, yet a 1-carat diamond can vary widely in price, depending upon its clarity, color and much more. However, a new company called CEDEX is looking to tokenize diamonds, creating a decentralized diamond exchange on the blockchain. Diamonds as easily traded, secure and fungible asset? Sounds intriguing.
Diamonds Making Bio-sensing Medical Equipment More Affordable
It turns out that diamonds are extremely valuable not just on your finger, but in the most advanced bio-imaging devices. Researchers in Japan have adapted lab grown diamonds by altering their chemical composition, making them highly suitable for use in expensive medical imaging devices, such as MEG, which is used to map brain activity. It turns out that the layered, sandwich-like structure of synthetic diamond can be designed with nitrogen vacancy centers. These 'vacant' areas detect changes in magnetic fields that can help diagnose disease. If successful, this research may significantly reduce the costs of operating advanced medical imaging technologies, making them accessible to all.