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(photo credit: The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology)
Artificial diamonds "grown" at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and sent to space on the Atlantis international space station throughout December are being hung outside to float before being returned to Earth. There they will be tested to examine whether there was any damage from the atomic oxygen that attacks materials based on carbon.
As diamonds are usually "apathetic" to such effects, their resistance to damage in labs and in space can determine if they are suited to future uses in satellites.
Doctoral student Ze'ev Shpilman is doing research on the interaction between an artificial space environment that he is building in his lab, and the diamonds - which are the hardest substance in nature. His studies are being supervised by the Technion's Prof. Alon Hoffman and Dr. Joan Adler, as well as by Dr. Irina Gouzman of the Soreq Nuclear Research Center.
Various objects could be plated with such diamonds to be long lasting, they suggest. Hoffman, Nahman and Spielman recently published an article in the journal Physics Letters in which they reveal that if diamonds are "grown" in the lab in a specific direction and in a slow and orderly way, they will be more resistant.
In cooperation with Prof. Tim Minton of the University of Montana, two versions of artificial diamonds were sent to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration for testing in the space station. They will be returned to Earth in a year. The diamonds were made from an isotope of carbon 13 and will thus allow an examination of it without the influences of any carbon that is in the environment of space, they said.