German researchers turn plastic sheets into tiny diamonds using laser beams.
In tests, a sheet of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used in packaging food and beverages was heated by a laser beam up to 6,000°C. PET is made of petroleum, also known as “hydrocarbon.” The process modified the molecules of the plastic into a nanodiamond. The laser fired ten flashes at the plastic film, after which the nanodiamonds formed and dropped into a collecting tank filled with water. There the process decelerates, and the nanodiamonds are gathered.
The breakthrough also has implications for planetary science. It sheds light on what goes on inside Neptune and Uranus, which contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The giants’ interior temperatures and pressures are extremely high, while the outer atmosphere of gasses is frigid above. This creates storms that produce hailstones of diamonds.
What do you think of this exciting breakthrough?