Diamonds are one of the hardest and most prized gems in the world, but now they may have some competition. Scientists have discovered a new carbon-based material that forms diamond-like crystals but rivals its sparkly cousin in both toughness and abundance.
The new synthetic gems are also magnetic and can glow in the dark. The North Carolina State University team behind the find is calling the new material "Q-carbon," which they made by accident while testing a new method to quickly create synthetic diamonds.
Q-carbon diamonds are stronger and denser than typical diamonds, due to the shortened bonds between atoms made during the rapid heating and cooling process, Smithsonian reports. They're also magnetic at room temperature — a very strange property for solid carbon — and emit tiny amounts of fluorescent light, which might be useful for electronic applications, according to Smithsonian.