Siberian scientists develop super-strong material from Yakutian impact diamonds

The Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences has developed a new super-strong material from impact diamonds mined in the Yakutian Popigai crater, the Academy's edition "Nauka v Sibiri" said.

Source: Press Photo

The Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences has developed a new super-strong material from impact diamonds mined in the Yakutian Popigai crater, the Academy's edition "Nauka v Sibiri" said.

"It is used in cutting instruments and boring bits, which is especially important for shale gas extraction," it said.

The material was developed through nano-particle condensation under 8 hPa pressure and temperatures of 1,600 to 1,800 degrees. Rods can be used in cutting instruments, dressing poles, hard alloy cutting tools and boring bits for super-deep and super-complex drilling.

"Tentative tests showed that the new products surpass similar goods made of synthetic diamonds or diamond-hard alloy composites by 20-53 times. They provide a cutting speed of over 140 meters per minute, which is unprecedented for known materials," institute leading researcher Valentin Afanasyev said.

The Popigai crater with an inner diameter nearing 90 kilometers was formed about 35 million years ago when a large celestial body fell to Earth. The so-called impact diamonds, which formed under impact from objects from space were found in the crater in 1971. It appeared later that they were not quite diamonds but a mix of carbon allotropes formed under high pressure.

The material was researched twice, in 1978 and in the 2000s, at the Kyiv Superhard Material Institute. Both studies proved that its abrasive qualities were almost twice as high as those of industrial-grade natural and synthetic diamonds, which made it important for engineering, drilling and other areas.

Fragmentary geological survey was arranged in the Soviet period and two deposits, 7-billion-carat Udarnoye and 140-billion-carat Skalnoye, were discovered. The overall reserves of the Popigai field were estimated at trillions of carats.

Studies of impact diamonds stopped in 1985 after it was decided to shift the focus to synthetic diamonds.

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