Use fullerenes to create hard-to-break diamonds

Structural comparison: crystalline diamond (left) and quasicrystalline diamond (right). On the right, the units of carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a cube are marked in turquoise, and the units of carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a hexagon are marked in yellow. Irregular structures are marked in red. Credit: Hu Tang

Teams of researchers in China, Germany, and the United States have developed ways to create fragile diamonds.In their paper published in the journal Nature, The group describes their approach to creating quasicrystal diamonds and their possible uses.

Previous studies have shown that diamond is the hardest known material and at the same time fragile. Despite its hardness diamond It can be easily cut or broken. This is due to their ordered atomic structure. Scientists have been trying for years to synthesize diamonds that retain their hardness but are hard to break. The team is now approaching its goal.

Currently, the way to make a diamond is to place a carbon-based material in a device such as a vise and heat it to a very high temperature in a very tightly squeezed state. In this new initiative, researchers used the same approach to create unordered types of diamonds, but with a new twist. The carbon-based material was a batch of fullerenes, also known as buckyballs (Carbon atom Arranged in a hollow sphere). They heated the material between 900 and 1,300 ° C at a pressure of 27 to 30 gigapascals. In particular, the pressure applied was much lower than that used to make commercially available diamonds. During the process, the spheres were forcibly disintegrated into clear quasicrystal diamonds that could be extracted at room temperature.


Figure 1: Completely synthesize sp3-30 GPa and bound carbon samples at 1,200-1,600K for 10 minutes. Credit: DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-04122-w

After making an unordered diamond, researchers electronic microscope To learn more about their structure. They also subjected the sample to X-ray diffraction and atomistic modeling.By doing so, they realized that their diamonds were made of disorder. sp3-As expected, hybrid carbon. The goal of making a diamond that is hard to break has been achieved. Unlike the results of other recent efforts to synthesize fragile diamonds, the resulting diamonds are not completely amorphous (a type of glass), but a type of amorphous diamond paracrystal. This means that it is in medium order. atom Ordered Short distance But it’s not long. Therefore, there is no plane of atoms. That is, diamonds cannot be cut like natural diamonds.

The newly synthesized AM-III carbon is the hardest and strongest amorphous material ever.

For more information:
Hu Tang et al, Synthesis of Quasicrystalline Diamond, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-04122-w

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Use fullerenes to create hard-to-break diamonds

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