Scientists used powerful lasers to transform cheap plastic into tiny "nanodiamonds" and confirmed the existence of a new type of water.

It is possible that diamond rain on ice giants in our solar system is a result of magnetic fields. More Earthly applications are possible because of the laser-blasting technique.

A billionth of a meter is the measurement of a few nanometers of diamond. They can be used to turn carbon dioxide into other gases and deliver drugs into the body, according to the study's co-author.

Kraus said that "nanodiamonds could be used as ultra small and very precise quantum sensors for temperature and magnetic fields, which could result in a plethora of applications."


He said that the technique could be used to reduce plastic pollution.

planetary scientists have suspected for a long time that diamonds form in the interiors of ice giants.

The diamonds wouldrain through the interiors of the frozen worlds if they formed.

The researchers took a sheet ofPET plastic and used a high-powered optical laser to see if the process was doable.

For a billionth of a second, the pressures were millions of times greater than Earth's atmosphere. The plastic was shocked by this bone-crushing pressure, which caused the carbon atoms in the plastic to change into a lattice.

Kraus said that using an X-ray laser they could look inside the sample and make movies of the chemical reactions happening there. Within a few seconds, we saw very efficient formation ofnanodiamonds inside the compressed plastic.

Everyday plastic that makes up common plastic bottles could be shocked with lasers to create valuable nanodiamonds.

Everyday plastic that makes up common plastic bottles could be shocked with lasers to create valuable nanodiamonds. (Image credit: Robert Lea/Mario Sarto)

The new research shows that this type of diamond formation may be more common than scientists had thought.

At the high temperatures and pressures found in the interiors of such icy worlds, an exotic state of water, called superionic water ice, emerges.

The water has a lattice of oxygen atoms. Kraus said that if the superionic water exists on ice giants such as Uranus and Neptune, the movement of protons through this exotic type of matter could help generate the strange magnetic fields observed on those planets.

It was thought that carbon atoms found in planetary interiors would cause superionic water to be unstable.

Kraus said that carbon and water are demixing through diamond formation. It is possible that isolated water can be found inside the planets.

It may be possible for a craft to visit our neighbors to see if diamond rain and exotic water exist.

Kraus said that a new NASA space probe will be launched to Uranus in the next decade.

There could be more commercial applications. People detonate carbon or blast larger diamonds to bits with explosives to create a variety of different-sized diamonds. Kraus said that the new method would be more efficient.

The team's research was published in September.

It was originally published on Live Science