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Physicists have created a brand new sort of diamond by crushing buckyballs

A brand new type of diamond created within the lab is as sturdy as pure diamond and higher in a position to face up to warmth


24 November 2021

Cloudy mineral rocks

Shutterstock / Cheshirskiy Kot

A brand new type of diamond has been created. Its distinctive construction provides it properties which are just like these of pure diamonds, however it’s extra steady underneath excessive warmth, so could also be helpful in instruments that function in scorching situations.

There are two major varieties of molecular construction in diamonds and lots of different supplies: crystalline buildings, through which the entire atoms are neatly organised in repeating preparations, and amorphous buildings, that are principally disorganised. Howard Sheng at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and his colleagues have made a diamond with a construction between these two varieties for the primary time.

The new materials, known as paracrystalline diamond, is made up of small buildings known as paracrystallites that include just some carbon atoms. There isn’t any explicit order to the way in which the paracrystallites are organized. “This is totally different from the diamond we know,” says Sheng.

He and his colleagues created the fabric by crushing a sort of carbon molecule known as buckminsterfullerene, or buckyballs, between six ultra-hard carbide anvils. At pressures of round 30 gigapascals – about 270 occasions the strain on the backside of the Mariana trench – and temperatures in extra of 1200°C, the buckyballs changed into paracrystalline diamond.

“We took it for granted that there were just amorphous and crystalline structures, but there is this intermediate state that we’ve been overlooking,” says Sheng. He says related paracrystalline states may exist in different solids as properly, and he hopes to search out different new supplies.

The paracrystalline diamonds are rather more steady than many other forms of diamond at excessive temperatures. They are additionally simply as onerous as pure diamonds, so might be utilized in saws and different industrial instruments that must operate for a very long time at excessive temperatures, says Sheng.

Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04122-w

Article amended on
25 November 2021

We corrected the ratio between the strain used to create the diamond and that of the Mariana trench.

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