Diamonds “Evaporate Under Light”

Diamond, the earth’s hardest
naturally occurring mineral, is “not forever” and can evaporate under light,
according to a study published in the journal Optical Materials Express by Macquarie University researchers, the university
announced July 14.

“Although this type of
light-induced evaporation has been observed in some materials, this is the
first time it’s been shown to occur for diamond,” associate professor Richard
Mildren said in a statement.

But Mildren noted that the
rate of evaporation is very small and not noticeable under normal conditions.
In fact, even under very bright UV conditions, such as intense sunlight or
under a UV tanning lamp, it would take approximately the age of the
universe—about 10 billion years—to see at an observable distance, he said.

However, the findings have
broad implications for future research, the university added.

“If we can make structures
in the diamonds that enable us to control the position of the light within a
very narrow filament in the diamond, that’s the first step to making smaller
and more efficient optical devices such as those used in quantum computing and
high performance lasers,” Mildren said.