Diamond-Hard Polish: Shiny Shimmering Smoothness

April 2013 Prof. Scarlet Leslie

Everyone knows that the Firebolt is the best broomstick in the Wizarding world. The best broomstick is made with the highest quality materials and even treated with diamond-hard polish.

Diamonds are a symbol of perfection. They are stunning, transparent gemstones. At its core, a diamond is, in essence, carbon. The carbon atoms are arranged in a rigid tetrahedral structure. The more common form of carbon, graphite, has a hexagonal structure and is actually slightly more stable than diamond. Naturally-occurring diamonds take billions of years to form at high temperatures and under great pressure deep in Earth's mantle. Volcanic activity move diamonds closer to the surface. There are synthetic diamonds, like the infamous cubic zirconia, which actually look "too perfect" and are not preferred by most consumers.

Since the diamond lattice is so highly ordered, it is rare to find any impurities in diamonds. However, impurities do manifest as diamonds with beautiful colors. The most common impurity is nitrogen, giving diamonds a yellow color. Boron is responsible for blue colored diamonds. Green diamonds are those that have been exposed to ionizing radiation. Dark brown diamonds are now marketed as chocolate diamonds.

"Diamond" comes from the Greek word adámas, meaning unbreakable. It is virtually impossible to scratch a diamond. The diamond is the hardest material on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Hardness is defined as a resistance to scratching. The Mohs scale ranges from 1 (softest) to 10 (hardest). Diamond has a hardness of 10. In comparison, graphite has a hardness of 1.5.

Diamond is the hardest mineral found in nature. Diamond has held the title of "World's Hardest Substance" for thousands of years. Recently, scientists have discovered and created a few substances harder than diamond. Buckyballs are a hexagonal configuration of carbon. When fashioned into Buckypaper, it is twice as hard as diamond. The hexagonal lattice was also found in a material found in a meteorite. This substance was named lonsdaleite. The lonsdaleite found in the meteorite only had a Mohs hardness of 7-8. Scientists produced pure lonsdaleite, which has a Mohs hardness just above 15. Wurtzide boron nitride (WBN) is another substance found in volcanic eruptions, which is slightly harder than diamond.

The only way to cut a diamond is with diamond. In fact, diamond saws are important cutting tools. To polish a diamond? One would need diamond "dust." Diamond is clearly qualified to polish the fastest racing broom in the world. It also serves well as a symbol of everlasting love and April's birthstone.