This post was most recently updated on March 20th, 2018
Did you know that if exposed to a high-pressure environment, carbon-based substances such as peanut butter can turn into diamonds?
That’s what scientists from Edinburgh University revealed in 2007, shedding light on an idea first proposed by alchemists centuries ago.
But creating genuine diamonds artificially or naturally is no laughing matter.
Ideally, a carbon-bearing material requires very high pressure that ranges between 45 and 60 kilobars and a low temperature between approximately 1600-2370F (900-1300C). However, these precise conditions can only be found naturally in two places: the site of a recent meteorite impact and the litospheric mantle below stable continental plates.
Nevertheless, Edinburgh scientists believe that replication of the above conditions is possible.
Professor Malcolm McMahon of Centre for Science and Extreme Conditions at Edinburgh University said that squeezing peanut butter between the tips of two diamonds produces a “stiletto heel effect”. This generates high pressure levels similar to what occur during natural diamond formation.
“Pressure can cause extraordinary changes in all kinds of materials and can create completely novel materials,” Mc Mahon added.
The scientists also revealed that the same process can also help to turn oxygen into red crystals.
Dr Colin Pulham, on the other hand, underscored that “submitting substances to extremely high pressure” is not done purely to make man made diamonds.
In fact, it is also used to understand or test the stability of certain drugs. By learning a drug’s properties and chemical structure under pressure, the pharmaceutical industry can create new forms of drugs or medications suitable for hotter climates.