Oxygen boosts diamond rain formation, study finds
“Diamond rain,” a long-hypothesized type of bizarre precipitation on ice giant planets, may be more common than previously thought, according to new research. In a previous experiment, scientists simulated the extreme temperatures and pressures found deep in the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, and observed the formation of diamond rain for the first time.
The scientists studied the process in a new material more similar to the chemical composition of Neptune and Uranus, and found that oxygen promotes the formation of diamond rain. This means they are able to form and grow in a wider range of conditions and on more planets.
The new study, by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and colleagues, provides a more complete picture of how diamond rain forms on other planets. On Earth, the findings could lead to a new way of making nanodiamonds, which have broad applications in drug delivery, non-invasive surgery, medical sensors, sustainable manufacturing and quantum electronics.
Siegfried Grenzer said: “The earlier paper was the first time we directly saw diamond formation from any mixture, and since then there have been quite a few experiments with different pure materials. But in planetary Inside, it’s a lot more complicated. There are more chemicals in the mix. So, we wanted to figure out here what kind of effect these extra chemicals have.” He is the head of SLAC’s High Energy Density Division.
The team, led by Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the University of Rostock in Germany, and the École Polytechnique in France, in collaboration with SLAC, published the findings today (September 2, 2022) in Science Advances.