Diamonds are one of the most dazzling precious materials and nearly every engagement ring has one.
They are known for being incredibly strong and even unbreakable!
Even though they have this reputation, people have still found ways to break diamonds and chisel them into a more beautiful shape.
This begs the question: can diamonds become liquid?
Diamonds cannot become a liquid. They are a crystalline version of carbon and they would sooner burn than melt. Hypothetically, the diamond would have to be very pressurized and superheated in a vacuum to melt, but it is still more likely to just turn into graphite.
While it is not really possible to melt a diamond with any of the technology and science we have now, we can still explain why this doesn’t work and answer some questions about what types of pressure diamonds are capable of surviving.
Keep reading to find out!
Why Diamonds Can’t Melt
We have explained a little bit about why scientists can’t melt diamonds with the resources we have now.
However, we have barely brushed the surface of what happens when people try to melt diamonds.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the chemical composition of diamonds and the results of trying to melt diamonds.
Because diamonds are a crystalline form of carbon, they cannot melt when heated in our atmospheric pressure alone.
The melting point of a diamond is 3000-5000 Kelvin with a margin for different levels of pressure.
Without the pressure, a diamond would burn at about 700 degrees Celsius long before melting, and it would end up just becoming burnt graphite anyway.
To really melt a diamond, you need a lot of pressure, a lot of heat, and an absence of oxygen and other similar chemicals.
These are really difficult conditions to create, so it is no wonder that scientists have not melted a diamond yet.
There also isn’t a compelling reason to try to melt a diamond, other than just pure curiosity.
Scientists have also determined that while creating the necessary levels of pressure is possible by compressing two diamonds together, if there was any failure, it could be incredibly explosive and dangerous.
Creating a liquid diamond is hypothetically possible if scientists work on developing a way to do that, but it would take a very long time to get there and to be safe about it.
Creating the proper conditions for this would be incredibly difficult.
In addition to how much work it would take, there is no real way to use the liquid diamond because as soon as it is out of the vacuum, cooled down, or exposed to our atmosphere, it would immediately burn up, turn into graphite, or become liquid carbon.
The Closest We’ve Been
Despite the fact that no one has ever really melted a diamond, science has had one instance that got closer to that goal than anyone has ever been.
Jianyu Huang was successful at softening a diamond.
This had never been done before and he called it quasi-melting because the carbon molecules went back and forth between crystallizing and melting before reforming again.
Huang did this by using carbon onions which are microscopic, hollowed-out structures of carbon. These carbon onions would shrink as pressure and electrons were applied.
This caused the centers of the onions to be highly pressurized and as they were heated, the center carbons turned into diamond and then would flicker from carbon to diamond.
This was technically a softened diamond and it’s the closest thing to a melted diamond we’ve seen so far.
Can Lava Melt Diamonds?
We have covered all of the reasons why diamonds cannot be melted and how even getting close was not quite what you might have expected.
But that does not answer all of the questions about this topic.
You now know why a diamond will not melt unless it’s put under very specific (and nearly impossible) conditions, but surely there are other ways to melt a diamond, right?
Lava is the hottest natural thing on earth. It is heated by the earth’s crust and is 1250 degrees Celsius.
You would think that should be hot enough to melt a diamond.
Lava is incredibly hot and while its temperatures are at the right level to turn a diamond into liquid carbon (as long as the proper pressure is applied), it is not enough to make a diamond turn into liquid.
At best, the diamond would burn but not melt or even get close.
While the temperature is one issue, there are still other factors that won’t allow a diamond to melt in lava.
We have talked about how important it is for there to be proper levels of pressure and ideally a vacuum when melting a diamond.
Lava does not offer either of these specific conditions.
If submerged in lava, the diamond would still only be exposed to the atmospheric pressure of our atmosphere, and that is not nearly enough pressure to melt a diamond.
The other problem is exposure to oxygen and other elements that would interfere with melting a diamond.
Lava does not create a vacuum, in fact, there are all sorts of other elements in lava that would be in the way of melting a diamond even if the pressure and heat were high enough.
Lava is only sufficient for burning a diamond, not melting one.
Can Acid Melt Diamonds?
The other big question is whether acid can melt a diamond or not.
Acid is known for eating through virtually anything and there are different acids that have different strengths.
This is where the natural strength of a diamond comes in handy.
There is not an acid corrosive enough to melt or destroy a diamond.
While acids can be incredibly dangerous to virtually every other material, the crystalline, carbon structure of a diamond makes it impossible to corrode a diamond.
The formation of the carbon molecules is just too strong and too tight for any of the hydrogen molecules in the acid to get through.
That said, a very strong acid is capable of damaging a diamond.
This damage does not mean that the acid took away some of the mass of the diamond, but rather it just burned the diamond in a different way than heat does.