World’s tiniest diamond specks could spark imaging innovation

Scientists from the Stanford University SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are using microscopic traces of diamond isolated from petroleum fluids to grow customized, intentionally flawed nano-diamonds designed for next-generation medical imaging technologies.

The miniscule flecks, known as “diamondoids,” weigh less than a billionth of a billionth of a carat and must be painstakingly harvested from crude oil through a complex isolation process.

"If you had a spoonful, you could give 100 billion of them to every person on Earth and still have some left over," researcher Jeremy Dahl told

Dahl and his team are experimenting with using the diamondoids to grow tailored nano-diamonds in the laboratory that are precisely flawed to produce individual light photons, which could lead to dramatic innovations in future imaging technology.

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