British scientists are 'growing' diamonds that are cheaper and greener than ...

Scientists are 'growing' diamonds that are so pure they are almost indistinguishable from natural stones.

One-carat diamonds are cultured in a matter of days at a laboratory in Cardiff using just methane and hydrogen gas.

Researchers behind the project say the lab-grown stones are purer, 20% cheaper and more environmentally friendly than real gems.

Scientists are 'growing' diamonds that are so pure they are almost indistinguishable from natural stones. Researchers used a small 'seed' crystal as a scaffold and then heat methane and hydrogen gas to release carbon atoms that naturally bind to make an artificial diamond

Scientists are 'growing' diamonds that are so pure they are almost indistinguishable from natural stones. Researchers used a small 'seed' crystal as a scaffold and then heat methane and hydrogen gas to release carbon atoms that naturally bind to make an artificial diamond

Professor Oliver Williams, a physicist at Cardiff University, told Sky News: 'The diamonds are purer than anything you would see in nature.

'With the best growers, less than one atom in a trillion is an impurity.'

Professor Williams leads a team making diamond sheets for research into semi-conductors - but the same process can be used to grow decorative gems.

Scientists start the process by putting a small 'seed' diamond into a vacuum chamber to remove impurities from the air.

They then pump in methane and hydrogen gas heated to 3,000°C (5,400°F) to form a highly charged plasma.

The gases rapidly break apart, releasing carbon atoms from the methane that collect on the diamond 'seed'.

British scientists are 'growing' diamonds that are so pure they are almost indistinguishable from natural stones. The team makes diamond sheets (pictured) for research into semi-conductors - but the same process can be used to grow decorative gems

British scientists are 'growing' diamonds that are so pure they are almost indistinguishable from natural stones. The team makes diamond sheets (pictured) for research into semi-conductors - but the same process can be used to grow decorative gems

These atoms naturally copy the crystal structure of organic diamond, which is also made of carbon atoms.

Each artificial stone grows at a rate of around 0.0002 inches (0.006mm) an hour.

Natural diamonds form over millions of years under high pressures and temperatures deep within the Earth's crust.

Lab-made gems are threatening to upset the diamond industry, with several companies worldwide now growing the stones for jewellery.

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