The hardest known natural material, diamonds may start losing carbon atoms when put in the sunlight, but that doesn’t mean diamond jewelry wearers will eventually lose their precious stone.
That’s according to a recent study by a team of physicists in Australia. The study says that ultraviolet (UV) rays can knock out the carbon atoms from diamonds.
However, under sunlight conditions, the UV-etching rate is too slow that it would require more than 1,000 years for a significant mass to disappear from diamond surface.
The discovery does not pose any threat to diamond possessors but could fetch groundbreaking results related to optical and electronic characteristics of diamonds that broadens their various industrial uses, researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney, said in their report published in Optical Materials Express.
“There is currently intense interest in diamond micro- and nano-structured devices for use in applications as diverse as quantum information science,” Physicist Rich Mildren, one of the authors of the report said.
The researchers have shown how beams of ultraviolet light can create diamond micro- and nano-structures by burning atoms from the surface in a smooth way than the usual laser etching (ablation), which leaves behind a rough, damaged area more like that of graphite than of diamond.
Diamond is one of the most challenging materials to process due to its extreme mechanical hardness and chemical inertness, and further complicated by crystal planes, the report said.
A technique to etch smooth surface of diamonds is particularly crucial in transmitting information through quantum communication applications. The new discovery that UV lights can just do that is promising for diamond uses for industrial purposes, it concluded.