The Buckyball is truly an amazing thing. First prepared in a lab in 1985, these interconnected, spherical lattices of 60 carbon atoms bonded together have found possible use in applications as varied as stopping HIV and helping us live to 150 years of age (maybe). Now, in 2012, scientists have found another lab-verified use for C60: It can be formed into a crystal so hard that it can cut through diamonds.
Creation of the yet-to-be-officially-named Buckyball superdiamond is, logistically, very simple. Scientists simply arranged the Buckyballs in a lattice and filled in the molecular gaps with another carbon compound, xylene. When extreme pressure was applied to the mix — 320,000 atmospheres' worth, the kind of pressure that creates synthetic diamond — a new part diamond, part Buckyball crystalline structure was created. Researchers know the substance is incredibly hard, harder than anything else on Earth: The creation of the superdiamond dented the diamond used to help apply the pressure needed to create it.
Basically, this news means that the Buckyball is the superhero of the molecular world — it's got so many uses and so much power that all those other crystals out there are jealous. Sorry, King Diamond of Planet Diamond, the diamond-shaped planet made of naught but diamond, you had a good run. But there's a new hardest mineral in the world: whatever the hell scientists wind up calling this stuff.
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