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Dec 03, 2015 11:36 AM EST

Scientists create new substance that is harder than diamond

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A group of scientists have uncovered a substance, that they say is harder than diamond  by applying a physical process to carbon, NY Times reports.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a technique to create Q-carbon, which represents a third phase of carbon alongside graphite and diamond.

"In 15 minutes, we can make a carat of diamonds," Mr. Narayan said, the lead scientist on the study.

The technique used to create Q-carbon was described on Monday in the Journal of Applied Physics.

The process involves concentrating a very short pulse of laser light onto carbon that can produce minuscule synthetic diamond "seeds," which can yield gems. The tiny laser beam is focused onto a piece of amorphous carbon for 200 nanoseconds, heating it extremely fast. The spot then cools in a process known as quenching, creating Q-carbon.

Mr. Narayan and his colleagues say the potential for creating synthetic gemstones is miniscule compared to possible applications of Q-carbon, which the researchers said is magnetic, fluorescent and electroconductive.

Wuyi Wang, the director of research and development at the Gemological Institute of America said that while he would like to confirm the findings himself,

"if they are true, it will be very exciting news for the diamond research community."

He added that the journal is "quite credible" and he "pretty much trusts what they say."

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