In a development that’s likely to explode the lab grown vs mined diamonds debate out of the water, scientists have created diamonds from plastic waste, in seconds. With a laser.
A recent breakthrough at the University of Rostock in Germany saw scientists fire a laser at a sheet of PET plastic – the type of plastic used for packaging food – heating it to 6,000 degrees.
The process reconfigured the molecules of the plastic (essentially a hydrocarbon) and created numerous, tiny nanodiamonds – in the blink of an eye.
Sure, the procedure has a long way to go before it’s making jewellery quality stones, but diamonds of this type are useful for cutting and polishing tools as well as electrical insulation.
PET plastic is considered the ideal plastic for creating diamonds in this way due to its ratio of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Considering the amount of plastic drink bottles currently floating in the ocean, this is a process with a lot of potential.