Mining gemstones damages the environment and often occurs under dehumanising conditions. Christian Schärf, Paul Rathke and Friedrich Wanierke hypothesised that, because rubies and sapphires are a mixture of aluminium oxide and certain metals, it might be possible to produce the gemstones themselves. The trio experimented with various melting and crystallisation processes, and thoroughly analysed the synthesis progression and the powder particles and crystals that formed. The young researchers came to the conclusion that nature is a highly skilled chemist. They succeeded in creating tiny ruby monocrystals but the path to creating a large gemstone in the lab proved more difficult than anticipated.
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