Researchers have found a third solid phase of carbon which can create diamonds without extreme conditions.
Diamonds either natural or man-made are made in extreme conditions. Extreme levels of heat and pressure are required to come up with diamonds. Now researchers have found another way.
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The new way can produce diamonds at normal room temperature. The research was carried out at North Carolina State University. Researchers found a new diamond-like phase of carbon. Diamonds can be created by using the new carbon phase.
Jay Narayan, a material scientist at NC State was leading the research. According to Narayan they have created a third solid phase of carbon. Such a condition can only be found in the core of some planets naturally.
“We’ve now created a third solid phase of carbon,” says Jay Narayan, the John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and lead author of three papers describing the work. “The only place it may be found in the natural world would be possibly in the core of some planets.”
The new phase is being called Q-carbon. To make the phase scientists coated a substrate of sapphire, glass or a plastic polymer. The coat was a layer of non-crystalline amorphous carbon.
The coated substrate was then blasted with single laser pulse, which last for 200 nanoseconds. The laser raised the temperature of the carbon over 4,000 Kelvin. The carbon was then instantly cooled.
The surrounding pressure was the same as room temperature. The resulting diamond is a crystalline material harder than a real diamond. The new diamond also has many new unknown properties.
Narayan claimed Q-carbon is very promising for developing new electronic display technologies.
“Q-carbon’s strength and low work-function – its willingness to release electrons – make it very promising for developing new electronic display technologies,” Narayan says.
The end product can further be altered by lengthening the duration of laser pulse. The process is also relatively inexpensive.
“We can create diamond nanoneedles or microneedles, nanodots, or large-area diamond films, with applications for drug delivery, industrial processes and for creating high-temperature switches and power electronics,” Narayan says.
“These diamond objects have a single-crystalline structure, making them stronger than polycrystalline materials. And it is all done at room temperature and at ambient atmosphere – we’re basically using a laser like the ones used for laser eye surgery. So, not only does this allow us to develop new applications, but the process itself is relatively inexpensive.”
Researchers believe they need to further test the material before substituting the diamonds in the market.
“We can make Q-carbon films, and we’re learning its properties, but we are still in the early stages of understanding how to manipulate it,” Narayan says.
“We know a lot about diamond, so we can make diamond nanodots. We don’t yet know how to make Q-carbon nanodots or microneedles. That’s something we’re working on.”
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The details of the research were published in the journal APL Materials.