Room Temperature Diamonds

“It doesn’t matter what temperature a room is,
it’s always room temperature.”
- Steven Wright *1

A year ago, a fantastic discovery rippled through the media, and — at the same time — numerous important science blogs reported the same news: “Now, diamonds can be made at room temperature at ambient pressure!”

Diamond is a fantastic material, and, if it could be created at an industrial scale, there would be an immediate impact on every industry we can imagine.

Original photo source: "diamond" by Michelle Tribe 

I started reading articles about this news, and everything was fine, until I read the following:

“The carbon is then hit with a single laser pulse lasting approximately 200 nanoseconds. During this pulse, the temperature of the carbon is raised to 4,000 Kelvin (or around 3,727 degrees Celsius) and then rapidly cooled. This operation takes place at one atmosphere — the same pressure as the surrounding air.” *2 *3

Wait a minute! That is odd; 4000K is hotter than the surface of a red star (which is around 3500K), and it is way beyond what should be considered “room temperature.” *4

What they probably meant is that laser input energy is very small and concentrated, and, as it lasts only a fraction of a second, it won’t affect the surrounding room temperature — neither will it increase the temperature of any other piece of equipment. Basically, the only thing affected will be the actual target. This makes the process very efficient and cost-effective.

The issue I am finding with this is that the language used is highly misleading and can cause different kinds of cognitive problems. For instance, in the same way, I can say that the steak I am roasting in my oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit was cooked at room temperature, as the oven has not increased the temperature of the room, which is obviously — wrong.

Let’s do a small speculative experiment and, with the above notion, consider one very controversial subject in physics, called “Cold Fusion.” With all of the above in mind, try imagining a palladium bar filled with deuterium atoms in the same way a sponge would be filled with water. Deuterium atoms are inside of the bar, sitting there and comfortably chilling, but — as soon as we turn the switch on and the electric current starts flowing — it will instantly start exciting those deuterium atoms. This excitement is similar to what would happen if we put the wet sponge in a microwave, where the excited water molecules would almost instantly create steam inside of the sponge. As all atoms are trying to get out of the bar, they will squeeze into a very narrow space and create a huge amount of pressure, achieving huge temperatures on an atomic scale. These temperatures can exceed thousands of degrees Kelvin. If the temperature inside of the material is raised to a few million degrees in a fraction of a second, the real question is whether we have the ability to measure the internal temperature for just a few atoms, and how would we do that?

Maybe it is worth adding that, while researching temperatures of imploding Sonoluminesent bubbles, some research claims to have measured temperatures as high as 100,000 Kelvin for those microscopic bubbles. *5

The point I am trying to make is that what appears and is considered room temperature to archive nuclear fusion may be far from the truth. Maybe, with the current state of technology and equipment, we are failing to measure real numbers and real times. What we call Cold Fusion is maybe a Very Hot Fusion in a very tiny amount of space and time.

Notes & References:

1. Steven Wright (American comedian, actor, writer)

2. New phase of carbon discovered: Making diamonds at room temperature

3. Researchers find new phase of carbon, make diamond at room temperature

4. Temperature

5. Sonoluminescence

6. Laser Fusion Energy - The HiPER Project

7. Emission spectrum