This image originally appeared as part of Northwestern's Scientific Images Contest. The contest and subsequent exhibitions are organized by Science in Society, the university's research center for science education and public engagement. Further information and opportunities to participate are available on their website. Prints and canvas editions of these Northwestern research images can also be purchased online (with the small net profit going to science education and outreach programming in the Chicago area).
This is a rough diamond weighing nearly one third of a carat (about the size of a pea). Diamonds, a form of pure carbon, are formed under immense pressures found 100 miles underground. Ancient volcanic eruptions carried diamonds to the surface worldwide. In western Brazil, diamonds like this one have superdeep origins they formed below 500 miles depth. Scientists study these superdeep diamonds because mysterious water-rich minerals are trapped inside them; minerals found nowhere else on Earth.