Are the diamond's days as an indestructible substance numbered? Possibly. At about 170,000 atmospheres, scientists managed to use super-hard graphite to crack one in 2003, but the exact reason why was somewhat of a mystery. Now maybe it's not.
There's still much work to be done, of course—as there usually is with breakthroughs and articles that include the phrases "scientists" and "researchers"—but computer simulations show inklings that the diamond's days as an indestructible force are coming to an end.
[...] Hui-Tian Wang at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, and colleagues have shown that the compressed material could be at least partly made of bct-carbon, which is built up from rings of four carbon atoms. Bct-carbon has attributes of both diamond, which has a cubic structure, and graphite, composed of loosely linked sheets of carbon atoms in a hexagonal lattice. In bct-carbon, layers of carbon rings are linked by strong vertical bonds.
The new technique is also theorized to require far less heating than other super-hard materials, which would be a boon to anyone in the near future who requires large amounts of the stuff...
Coming soon, in 2030! Real geeks get their brides-to-be engagement rings made from bct-carbon! Diamonds were cool, for a time, but if you really want to show her never-ending love, get the girl something truly indestructible! Billy Mays would be so proud. [New Scientist]