Tuesday, September 26, 2023

This mineral is harder than diamond and has a unique origin: the ends of space

Lonsdaleite is one of the most interesting materials for geologists, being a kind of “philosopher’s stone”. It is equal to or harder than diamond, its existence is questioned and now, a group of researchers suggests that it too has an extraterrestrial origin.

This material was discovered in 1967 within the Barringer crater, a geological structure located in Arizona, formed from meteorite impact 50,000 years ago. Lonsdaleite was found in it, named in honor of the crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale, who was the first female member of the Royal Society of London.

After more than 50 years, the confirmation of its existence came, because at first it was believed that it was not a new material, but an anomalous diamond shape.

This is because both are allotropes of carbon, in other words, elemental carbon linked to different structures, on the one hand diamonds in the form of cubes and lonsdaleite in hexagons.

Now, after doing more tests on the crystals to determine if it is a new mineral, an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals new information.

The origin of the mineral

According to a group of researchers, lonsdaleite is a real mineral, so its existence is explained by the number of samples known so far and the technical advances of recent years that have made it possible to have more capable microscopy tools.

Despite their structural differences, diamond and lonsdaleite are the same They are formed in the same way, through one of three processes: when carbon is under high pressure and temperature for a long time, in the same way diamonds are usually created on Earth; an impact, such as a meteorite collision; or by vapors released from graphite, where the atoms “stick” to an existing piece, growing it in size.

Along with their work, the scientists were also able to determine the origin of the mineral, revealing that lonsdaleite could be extraterrestrial and cannot be formed at high pressure and temperature, but for an effect. In particular, it was an impact about 4.5 billion years ago that destroyed a dwarf planet in our solar system, around the same time that Earth was formed.

The possible uses of lonsdaleite

Regarding its possible applications, this mineral can act as instead of diamonds in some cases, thanks to its hardness, which is one of the logical cases of its use in the mining environment.

To do this, it is necessary to find ways to synthesize them the same way diamonds are made and it is replicated on an industrial level. This will make it possible to make machine parts that are not only small, but also extremely hard, which serves to replace graphite, the researchers say.

So far, confirmation of the origin and properties of lonsdaleite has revealed that there are still minerals to be discovered, because many of them will be theoretical. Now the next step for this mineral is to see if it fulfills the promises it made and if it has a direct impact on technological development.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com/
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
Latest news
Related news