I’m wondering if it’s April first all over again. Also seeing as one
of the things one dopes diamond with to make it conduct electricity
is boron I’m not so sure about drinking tequila any more.
If you were looking for a new way to make semiconducting
diamond, you might not have thought of starting with tequila. But
the potent spirit turns out to be excellent raw material.
Diamond is normally an electrical insulator, but becomes a
semiconductor when doped with the right impurities. Diamond film
is tougher than silicon, so it could be useful for devices that
must operate at high temperatures or under other harsh
However, diamond films are expensive and difficult to make. They
are produced by vaporising organic material, and then
controlling how the carbon atoms crystallise onto a surface. The
process works best if the material contains carbon and oxygen in
roughly equal parts, as well as some hydrogen.
Now a team of researchers led by Javier Morales of the
University of Nueva Leon near Monterrey in Mexico have shown
that ordinary tequila does the job nicely. They injected the
heated vapour from 80-proof “tequila blanco” into a low-pressure
chamber. Measurements confirmed that the carbon deposited on
test surfaces had a diamond structure
(www.arxiv.org/abs/0806.1485). “Some kinds of tequila seem
naturally to have the right mix of atoms,” says Morales. Other
forms of alcohol have also worked, although it’s not clear if
this is faster or more reliable than using common precursors
such as acetone.
“The result is certainly funny, but the process seems
reasonable,” says physicist Rudolf Pfeiffer of the University of
Vienna in Austria. “I don’t know of any previous attempts to
make diamonds from drinks.”