Hexagonal diamond or commonly Lonsdaleite (named in honour of Kathleen Lonsdale ) is an allotrope of carbon with a hexagonal lattice, believed to form when meteoric graphite falls to Earth. The great heat and stress of the impact transforms the graphite into diamond, but retains graphite's hexagonal crystal lattice. Lonsdaleite was first identified from the Canyon Diablo meteorite at Barringer Crater (also known as Meteor Crater) in Arizona. It was first discovered in 1967. Lonsdaleite occurs as microscopic crystals associated with diamond in the Canyon Diablo meteorite; Kenna meteorite, New Mexico; and Allan Hills (ALH) 77283, Victoria Land, Antarctica meteorite. It has also been reported from the Tunguska impact site, Russia.

It is transparent brownish-yellow in color and has an index of refraction from 2.40 to 2.41, a specific gravity from 3.2 to 3.3, and a Mohs hardness of 7–8. The Mohs hardness of diamond is 10; the lower hardness of lonsdaleite is chiefly attributed to impurities and imperfections in the naturally occurring material. It can also be created by the thermal decomposition of a polymer, poly (hydridocarbyne), at atmospheric pressure under argon starting at 110 °C.

Crystal Structure

Lonsdaleite has a hexagonal unit cell, related to the diamond unit cell in the same way that the hexagonal and cubic close packed crystal systems are related.

The diamond structure can be considered to be made up of interlocking rings of six carbon atoms, in the chair conformation. In Lonsdaleite some of the rings are in the boat conformation instead.

A diagram of the structure of lonsdaleite can be viewed here: A diagram of the structure of diamond can be viewed here:

See also


  • Anthony, J.W.; et al (1995). Mineralogy of Arizona. 3rd edition,
  • Frondel, C.; U.B. Marvin (1967). "Lonsdaleite, a new hexagonal polymorph of diamond". Nature 214 587–589.
  • Frondel, C.; U.B. Marvin (1967). "Lonsdaleite, a hexagonal polymorph of diamond". Am.Min. 52
  • Bianconi, P.; et al (2004). "Diamond and Diamond-like Carbon from a Preceramic Polymer". J. Am. Chem. Soc. Vol. 126 (10): 3191–3202.

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