Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Japanese scientists create world's hardest diamond

The cylindrical-shaped diamond was synthesised by a team of researchers at Ehime University.

The diamond - called the Hime, Japanese for princess - was created as part of a collaboration between scientists and Sumitomo Electric Industries, which hopes to start selling the diamonds as early as next year.

Hailed as the hardest artificial diamond on the world, it is significantly stronger than normal diamonds enabling it to be used in an array of industrial activities, according to its creator Tetsuo Irifune.

"A large Hime diamond is useful for experiments to study the high- pressure deep interior of the Earth," he told Kyodo News. "Also, as a product for industrial use its lifetime is several times longer than that of an ordinary diamond."

The newly unveiled diamond is a more sophisticated and bigger version of a similar diamond the same scientists first synthesised in 2003.

Following a series of experiments conducted since March last year using ultra-high pressure synthesising machinery, scientists have been able to craft the Hime, which measures 1cm in length and diameter.

Diamonds are the hardest know natural occurring material and are prized for industrial purposes.

Due to their hardness and head conductivity, they are commonly used for industrial cutting in devices such as diamond-topped drill parts and saws as well as being mixed into a powder or paste for polishing.

An estimated 80 per cent of mined diamonds deemed unsuitable as gemstones are employed in an industrial context.

Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo

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