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Peanut butter diamonds on display

Peanut butter is being turned into diamonds by scientists with a
technique that harnesses pressures higher than those found at
the centre of the earth.

28/06/07.  Edinburgh University experts say the feat is made possible by
squeezing the paste between the tips of two diamonds creating a "stiletto
heel effect".

The scientists also revealed they can turn oxygen into red crystals using
the same method.

Demonstrations take place at Royal Society exhibition shows from 2 July.

Professor Malcolm McMahon, based at the Centre for Science and Extreme
Conditions at Edinburgh University, is one of the scientists involved.

He said: "Pressure can cause extraordinary changes in all kinds of
materials and can create completely novel materials.

"We are currently developing techniques that will create pressures of up to
five million atmospheres, much higher than the pressure at the centre of
the earth, to find the holy grail of high-pressure physics, the metallic phase
of hydrogen.

"If we manage to make metallic hydrogen, the next step will be to make
enough to study it in real detail, which would mean using much larger
diamond anvils, about the size of your thumb, to squeeze it."

He added: "Obviously large gem-quality diamonds would be extremely
expensive, so we are looking at ways to make them artificially.

"Many carbon containing materials can be converted into diamond
including peanut butter."

Dr Colin Pulham, who is also based at the Edinburgh University, said:
"Submitting substances to extremely high pressure is a valuable means
for understanding their stability.

"High pressure testing of pharmaceuticals is becoming a useful technique
to screen new and existing drugs.

"Understanding what happens to a drug's structure and its properties
under pressure could lead to the development of medication which is
better suited to hotter climates, or to the development of new forms of
medication."

The free exhibition runs from Monday 2 to 5 July 2007.