Molybdenum trioxide crystals
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These are lovely transparent crystals of molybdenum trioxide which I made myself using nothing more than an acetylene welding torch and a molybdenum plate. Lovely. Just lovely. Too bad I was trying to make diamonds, not molybdenum trioxide. It seems that blowing an ordinary acetylene torch at a molydenum or silicon plate held at the right temperature will cause a thin film of diamond to form slowly on the surface. After my first attempt at this I saw a few tiny flakes of what was unmistably transparent crystal material. Needless to say I was pretty excited by this. Unfortunately, when I continued the experiment I started getting lots and LOTS of this beautiful crystal material, so much that it could not possibly be diamond, since what was expected was a few microns of polycrystalline film, not macroscopic crystals like these. Sadly, it is simply molydenum trioxide, a species that forms in air at high enough temperatures.
I'm still working on the diamond making, it will be a Popular Science column if I get it to work.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 28 December, 2008