‘Diamond Rain’ Discovered at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
A cutaway shows the interior of Neptune (left). Methane forms hydrocarbon chains that respond to high pressure and temperature to form "diamond rain" in the interiors of icy giant planets like Neptune. Image by Greg Stewart/SLAC.

Scientists observed diamond rain in the laboratory for the first time as it formed at conditions found deep inside giant planets like Uranus and Neptune. Here, extremely high pressure (roughly 1.5 Mbar) squeezes hydrogen and carbon apart to form solid diamonds that sink slowly down into the planet’s core. Researchers simulated the planetary environment by creating shock waves in plastic with an intense optical laser at the Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source. In addition to astrophysical relevance, nanodiamonds made on Earth could potentially be harvested for commercial purposes - uses that span medicine, scientific equipment and electronics.

Newsletter Signup
© Copyright 2017 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer
Give Us Your Thoughts and Feedback on the New Federal Labs Website

Click here to give us your feedback.