don't try this at home?
March 16, 2018 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Nor is it the Superman method of crushing coal in his bare hand...
posted by k5.user at 12:31 PM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

This story omits the best part, the reaction of his wife to receiving a tenth anniversary present made from a singed piece of oil-soaked cotton thread.
posted by Mayor West at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

It may not be pretty on the outside, but it didn't harm any African children in its manufacture, so it's prettier on the inside.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:34 PM on March 16, 2018 [12 favorites]

Nothing burned down, AND the microwave got cleaned. Truly, there is still good in this world.
posted by explosion at 1:07 PM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Interesting. I'm not convinced it made real diamonds though. I thought you needed high pressure along with the high temperature. I remember a Myth Busters where they made tiny diamonds using large explosives.

You can buy large synthetic diamonds.

I laughed at this statement from the website:
Lab diamonds offer excellent value, and are slightly more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality.

Slightly more affordable? Manufacturing processes can scale. It is possible to make perfect, large, cheap diamonds. They could give them away with a McDonalds Happy Meal. But the diamond industry is too well controlled for that to happen.
posted by eye of newt at 1:09 PM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I wonder how this method would work with pure graphite powder and like, a pottery kiln
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:11 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Here's the ingenious part of the project. Turn one of the coffee mugs upside-down. (I used a slightly larger one as the base.)

Set 2 more pieces of graphite (non-oiled) on the upturned mug, parallel to each other.

Lay the oiled graphite across the other 2 pieces.

Place the other coffee mug over all of it.

Presto! It's a makeshift crucible!

One of the mugs in question has me thinking The Today Show should be renamed "The Crucible." It has a certain je ne sais quoi.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:24 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

The way I've actually seen this working is quite similar but you would need more serious equipment. In an almost-vacuum chamber, you feed methane or similar small carbon-hydrogen molecules through an area with microwaves focused on it to make a plasma. In the middle of the plasma area, you have placed a tiny diamond to act as the seed (otherwise you will end up with many tiny crystals instead of one big one). Then, you wait. For a large diamond, you might have to wait weeks, assuming you got the recipe right.

It's a race between the hydrogen plasma etching off material from the surface of the crystal and the carbon plasma depositing on it. If you set up the conditions right, the carbon wins, and the crystal gets bigger.

A vacuum is important because nitrogen atoms included in the crystal make it yellow. Other impurities have similar effects.
posted by jnnnnn at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

How do you convert graphite into diamond? Graphite is more stable than diamond, and it would seem like you'd be fighting the 2nd law to make the synthesis as he's proposing.

My wife (physicist) suspects that the source of carbon for the diamond is the oil itself, not the graphite in the pencil lead. If he repeated his synthesis using a rod of clay (i.e. no graphite) the result would likely be the same: a gross-looking mouse turd of a diamond that you can mount in a washer.

I guess I will not try my hand at making jewellery for her this way.
posted by Pazzovizza at 3:50 PM on March 16, 2018

I visited an Intel fab, and was shown around the QA lab. One of the things they do is characterise transistors in processors by crainking the clock speed up until things stop working, crank it down a bit, then zap individual transistors on the die with lasers to find out which ones are problematic.

But how do you keep a processor dissipating around 100w cool if you need to shine a light on the silicon so can't have some huge lump of metal bolted to it? You bolt a huge lump of synthetic diamond to it. I was impressed by this, and asked how much it cost - "Oh, a couple of thousand dollars."

Which, y'know, you could sell in a heartbeat to the top tier of modder/gamers, if you could only buy such things on the open market.Can you, if you're not Intel? Not that I know. The closest I can find is Element 6, which does do a range of industrial diamond blanks and sheets that you can buy online, but noting that corresponds to what I saw at the chip fab. It's almost as if it doesn''t want people to know that big chunks of diamond don't cost very much, but that's surely nothing to do with it being owned by de Beers.
posted by Devonian at 4:01 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Um? 100% cotton thread is not hard to find. It's quilting thread. It's abundant.
posted by crush at 4:52 PM on March 16, 2018

That "diamond" looks like a dead bedbug.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:12 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seriously though, I wouldn't try this at home. At least not with mugs that I'm not very very very sure about. Not all mugs are perfect insulators; that's why some of them get warm along with the water more than conduction accounts for. Some of them have some metallic content in the glaze. In the five minutes to cook or two minutes to boil water, you are fine, but I would not run my microwave for 99 minutes with any of my mugs.

(Quoth chemical engineer friend whom I consulted to double-check my instinctive response: "I could lend you the alumina crucibles I have...")
posted by seyirci at 6:14 PM on March 16, 2018

The microwave thing is just an April Fools Day prank unfortunately.
posted by Slinga at 7:29 PM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

The microwave thing is just an April Fools Day prank unfortunately.

I'm not even mad.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:59 PM on March 16, 2018

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