The diamond is one the strangest substances we know of. It's essentially pure and highly compressed carbon. Unlike coal or graphite, other naturally occurring forms of pure carbon, diamond is valuable. Yet it may not be quite as valuable in the future. Let's see why!
Diamond is valuable for its cachet in jewelry. Much of the price of a diamond for jewelry comes from the tight control over supply from the DeBeers Group rather than an actual shortage of good quality diamonds.
Diamonds are also valuable because of their strength. Diamond is the "hardest material on earth" which makes it extremely useful as a drilling material. However, it is in this area that diamond may soon be defunct.
A team at North Carolina State University was doing some research into other forms of carbon and they recently discovered something quite amazing.
The team stumbled across a new chemical form of the element called Q-Carbon. In Q-Carbon, the carbon atoms are arranged in a very different way from graphite and diamond.
Q-Carbon's odd arrangement of atoms also gives it some very strange properties compared to standard forms of carbon.
Q-Carbon is a "ferromagnetic" material, which means that it carries a magnetic charge in the same way that iron does. Neither graphite nor diamond is remotely magnetic.
When certain frequencies of energy are laid on Q-Carbon, it begins to glow. This is a very unusual property.
Q-Carbon is also much, much harder than a diamond. It will be put into use in deep drilling, making new prosthetics and strangely it will also be very useful for making stronger smartphone screens.