Scientists have recreated the "rain of diamonds" on Neptune using X-ray lasers

It is not necessary to fly to the outskirts of the solar system to see a natural wonder if you have powerful lasers and ingenuity. At the SLAC laboratory at Stanford University, they managed to achieve the conditions under which polystyrene chips turn into real diamonds. True, they are so small that they are only of interest to science.

Neptune's atmosphere is rich in methane, a compound of carbon and hydrogen that also makes up plastic. All that was required was to apply monstrously enormous pressure to it, for which the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) instrument, part of the world's most powerful X-ray laser Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), was used. Recently, it was modernized, bringing the magnetic field to 17 Tesla, including for this experiment.

MEC laser radiation generated shock waves in plastic so strong that carbon atoms were "squeezed" out of the substance and turned into tiny isolated diamonds. They are only a few nanometers in size, while on Neptune, according to calculations, boulders weighing millions of carats can form. But both here and there we are talking about real diamonds.

There is no use for precious crumbs, their lifetime was a fraction of a second, while the lasers were working. However, scientists got a clear idea of ​​how an unusual rain of diamonds can form and what processes can occur in the atmosphere of Neptune. Plus, they took the first step towards developing a technology for the synthesis of synthetic nano-diamonds - for the needs of future industries that do not yet exist.

The immediate plans of this team of scientists are to simulate the atmosphere of other planets in the solar system.