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Diamonds produced from tequila

By Greg Morsbach, BBC News

Tequila bottles
Tequila is one of Mexico's most famous exports

A method of producing synthetic diamonds using tequila - Mexico's favourite alcoholic drink - has been discovered, scientists there say.

The amazing discovery was made by physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and could have many industrial uses.

There is one catch however. The synthetic diamond crystals are too small to be turned into jewellery.

Mexico produces hundreds of millions of litres of tequila every year.

Annual sales to the US alone are worth about $500m.

The head of the scientific team, Miguel Apatica explained to the BBC how they came up with their discovery.

"First of all we turn the liquid tequila into vapour by using a lot of heat. The gas molecules are then broken up into tiny particles. Then we increase the heat even further - to around 800 degrees celsius."

"The end result is that we get carbon atoms which are then deposited in the shape of a very thin diamond film," he added.

The synthetic diamond crystals can only be seen under an electron microscope.

Although they cannot be used for jewellery, there are plenty of practical applications for them.

They can be used as an alternative to silicon in computer chips or as ultra fine cutting instruments in medical procedures.

One advantage of making diamond film from tequila is that it is extremely cheap.

The scientists found that even the cheapest of tequila brands, averaging at $3 a bottle, are good enough to make diamonds.

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