Diamond showers may be more common than expected on frozen giant planets: thanks to oxygen, which boosts strange precipitation through a process that can also be exploited on Earth to convert common PET plastics into diamonds for use in a wide range of applications, from pharmaceuticals from management to surgery, from Fabrication of sensors to quantum electronics. The study proves it published In Science Advances written by researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (Hzdr) and the University of Rostock in Germany with colleagues from the École Polytechnique in France and the Slac National Accelerator Laboratory in the United States.
In a previous experiment, the researchers simulated the extreme temperatures and pressures found deep within the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, and for the first time, they observed diamonds falling inside a plastic material. Composed of a mixture of hydrogen and carbon, the main components of ice giants but not the only one.
That’s why, in the new experiment, the research authors decided to use pet plastic that, in addition to carbon and hydrogen, contains oxygen. Using a high-powered optical laser, they created shock waves in the plastic, and observed how the atoms rearranged themselves to form nanodiamonds: thanks to the presence of oxygen, which facilitates the splitting of oxygen and hydrogen, the nanodiamonds can grow to a lower level. pressures and temperatures previously observed.
Researchers speculate that much larger diamonds, worth millions of carats, could form on Neptune and Uranus, then slowly sink into the icy layers to settle around the solid core of these planets.
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