Super Hard “New” Carbon

Graphite-Graphene-News-208A"We created a new type of carbon material, one that is comparable to diamond in its inability to be compressed," Wang said. "Once created under extreme pressures, this material can exist at normal conditions, meaning it could be used for a wide array of practical applications."

Open up another new chapter in our new Carbon Age. We end the week with a most interesting new form of carbon created hard enough to indent diamond. Just announced as an interesting lab finding, my guess is that in about a decade, super hard carbon will begin appearing in industry, and just possibly drilling and steelmaking. A decade on again, and my guess is that super hard carbon will have taken our carbon age to new heights.

We started the week with “Graphene magic from MIT,” saying: “This just might be MIT’s biggest contribution to our arriving graphene/graphite age.”  The same is probably true for this contribution from the Carnegie Institution for Science, although that probably requires just a little more information than in the current press release.

New form of carbon observed
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Washington, D.C. — A team of scientists led by Carnegie’s Lin Wang has observed a new form of very hard carbon clusters, which are unusual in their mix of crystalline and disordered structure. The material is capable of indenting diamond. This finding has potential applications for a range of mechanical, electronic, and electrochemical uses. The work is published in Science on August 17.

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   Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and takes on a wide variety of forms—the honeycomb-like graphene, the pencil “lead” graphite, diamond, cylindrically structured nanotubes, and hollow spheres called fullerenes.

Some forms of carbon are crystalline, meaning that the structure is organized in repeating atomic units. Other forms are amorphous, meaning that the structure lacks the long-range order of crystals. Hybrid products that combine both crystalline and amorphous elements had not previously been observed, although scientists believed they could be created.

   Wang’s team—including Carnegie’s Wenge Yang, Zhenxian Liu, Stanislav Sinogeikin, and Yue Meng—started with a substance called carbon-60 cages, made of highly organized balls of carbon constructed of pentagon and hexagon rings bonded together to form a round, hollow shape. An organic xylene solvent was put into the spaces between the balls and formed a new structure.

—-Wang’s other co-authors on the paper were Bingbing Liu of Jilin University, Hui Li and Xiao Cheng Zeng of the University of Nebraska, Yang Ding of the Argonne National Laboratory, and Wendy Mao of Stanford University.

Carnegie Institution for Science.

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