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Diamond Anvil Cell: Tiny Diamond Anvils Open Exciting Tech Possibilities

Scientists are always on the quest to push learning further. A recent paper was published wherein researchers have found a way to use diamonds as tiny anvils to break molecules apart. Creating and using a very small anvil—a tool that’s called a diamond anvil cell —while pounding away at molecules might seem unique, or cute, even, but it’s a bold idea that has plenty of real-life applications and implications.

Breaking Bonds with Physical Pressure

The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, formerly known as the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.  According to their published study in Nature, the event is the very first chemical reaction that was triggered by using just mechanical pressure.

Through this feat, they are hoping to create a method of doing molecular chemistry that is more precise, is efficient, consumes a lot less energy, and is greener for the environment.

The SLAC researchers used diamonds—namely, diamond anvil cell —to generate large amounts of physical pressure to break the atomic bonds between molecules. They used this tool in conjunction with another durable compound known as carborane. (This compound is a very small sphere-shaped compound comprised of carbons and other elements. And it has the ability to resist the extreme pressure that is generated by the diamond anvil cell.) They then attach these carboranes to the softer molecule they wish to—in this case, a molecule made of copper and sulfur. The carboranes then act as a sort of molecular pressure points where the force is applied to force the atomic bonds to break.

 A Different Take on Chemical Reactions

Using physical force—such as the one from utilizing a diamond anvil cell —isn’t the easiest way to produce chemical reactions. However, a chemical reaction derived from pure pressure instead of just using heat generates less energy and is cleaner for the environment. It is also a more precise way of producing reactions as it is possible to manipulate specific atoms in the molecule and force only a specific bond to break. Such a fact allows scientists to look for new chemical processes and apply them to various technologies.

According to one of the study’s lead authors Hao Yan—physical science research associate at Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES)—the pressure from the molecular anvils has the potential to break chemical bonds and produce entirely different results compared to other means, such as pulling the bonds apart or by using light, heat or electricity to force the chemical bonds to break.

Diamond Anvil Cell — Just the Beginning

Currently, the tech is still in its infancy, and there is still a lot of work to do. But as long as the process exists, scientists will be able to find useful ways to apply the tech. In fact, researchers can use it to make new kinds of semiconductors or even convert carbon dioxide to something useful and less harmful.

This new greener and more energy-efficient method of breaking chemical bonds is a welcome addition to the field of research, as there is now an increasing demand for managing the environmental impact of scientific research. Research published in 2011 notes that the environmental impact of research should be taken into account in its design and execution. Not only does this statement make sense financially, but it also increases the sustainability of the content and the process.

T-Mobile sustainability & the pledge to go 100% renewable energy by 2020

There is hope in the quest for renewable energy as more and more tech giants are joining the cause. T-Mobile recently joined The Climate Group and the RE100 campaign to pursue a T-Mobile sustainability plan and put it in action. The mobile giant’s plan or commitment is to go 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2021.

T-Mobile Sustainability And Other Tech Giants Leading the Charge

The American Telco has announced its new contract to source 160 megawatts from wind power generation beginning early 2019. It will be acquiring the energy from Infinity Renewables’ Solomon Forks Wind Project in Kansas. Last December, they signed a similar renewable energy contract with Red Forks Wind Power Project in Oklahoma. These two sources combined will generate 320 MW, equivalent to 60 percent of T-Mobile’s power needs.

This move isn’t just about saving the environment, according to T-Mobile CEO John Legere. It’s also a very good business move since the company is projecting to save around $100 million in power consumption in the next 15 years. The savings can then trickle down to their customers in the form of lower fees, additional freebies, or overall better service because of new innovations which could be implemented.

It is fortunate that the leading tech giants are the ones spearheading the way to 100 percent renewable energy. In fact, back in 2016, Google, Apple and Facebook started on a race to meet their 100 percent renewable energy goals. Google bought a lot of renewable energy and is planning to buy even more wind and solar power to meet the demands of all of its 13 data centers worldwide. Apple, on the other hand, announced that they have already reached 93 percent back in 2015.

Renewable Energy to Save the Environment

On the case of the T-Mobile sustainability goal: Some might say that committing for renewable energy is a publicity stunt for the company. Indeed, it is true that an announcement like that will likely put the company in the radar for the coming weeks and months. Nevertheless, it is actually a good thing that tech companies are now racing to use all renewable energy since technology is actually one of the culprits in carbon emissions. Although they may not be the leading sources, technological advances that we take for granted today still leave a carbon footprint that affects the environment negatively. Companies such as Apple and Google are actually trying their best to reduce the carbon footprint of their devices and services.

Another reason why going completely renewable is now viable is the price of renewable energy. In the past, wind and solar energy were too expensive to be sustainable. However, the price of renewable power has dropped significantly in the past 10 years. In fact, wind power is now one of the most cost-efficient power sources to use. Market analysts have even stated that they expect wind and solar energy to be the cheapest sources of power in the world by 2030.