Nano-diamonds are, in their most base form, carbon-based particles that are roughly 4 to 5 nano-meters in diameter and covered in facets reminiscent of a soccer ball, which is part of what allows them to create such intense bonds with such a variety of different molecules. But what makes them so crucial in the advancement of quantum mechanics, biotechnology, and any other number of fields might surprise you: It’s their flaws.
Nano-diamonds can be found in meteorites, but in most cases they actually owe their entire existence to one of the most destructive forces mankind has ever wrought: nuclear warfare. In 1963, Soviet scientists were studying nuclear bombs. To create enough pressure for a nuclear bomb, the core had to be placed under immense pressure, something which was achieved through the use of explosives.
The scientists noticed that the residual soot from the carbon-based explosions was littered with diamond nano particles (ranging in size from 4-10 nm). Not much of an engagement ring, no, but all this microscopic bling opens up a world of possibilities more incredible than any rock could ever hope to be. From this dust, science has created a new substance, which has come to be known as nano-diamonds.
Diamond, being extremely hard and highly chemically stable, is one of the best abrasives in the natural world. Because of this, nano-diamond powder – which enjoys the abrasive qualities of diamond as well as the functional qualities of, well, powder – lends itself to creating highly effective polishes in the forms of paste, gels, etc., giving you the smoothest surfaces possible and opening up a world of potential.
For dental consultants, however, the real appeal of nano-diamonds are the potential for its applications in dentistry.
During jaw and tooth repair operations, doctors are normally forced to use invasive surgery in order to place a sponge full of proteins that stimulate the growth of new bone and tissue near the area which was operated on. And although effective, these surgeries tend to be expensive, time consuming, and like most invasive surgeries, very painful. But that all might change soon thanks to another study on the use of nano-diamonds.
This time out, the team found that nano-diamonds “bind rapidly to both bone morphogenetic protein and fibroblast growth factor,” both of which essentially encourage bone and cartilage to rebuild themselves. What’s more, the itty bitty diamonds’ large surface area means the proteins can be delivered over a longer period of time—not that getting them there in the first place will be a problem. All it takes to enjoy the benefits of these shiny tooth-savers is a simple injection or oral rinse. No invasive surgery required.
Nano-diamonds seem set to revolutionize dentistry in various ways – not only can they mitigate some of the worst side-effects of surgery by promoting new bone growth, but the natural abrasiveness of powder coupled with the natural properties of diamond may yet turn out to be effective in cleaning teeth, perhaps leading to less surgeries in the future.