Diamond is no longer the strongest form of carbon after this new...

Diamond is no longer the strongest form of carbon after this new discovery

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Diamonds are widely known to be the hardest form of carbon. This idea is about to change as researchers discovered a new form of carbon structure that is not only stronger, but it even shines brighter and more brilliantly than diamond itself. It is called Q-carbon and it also has ability to glow even in the lowest of light making it possible for developing new electronic display technology.

A team of material scientists from North Carolina are the brains behind this discovery. The Q-carbon is only made in a lab, so we can think of it as an artificial form of diamond.

[Image source: Vladimir Godnik]

“The only place it may be found in the natural world would be possibly in the core of some planets,” the scientists explain in a press release

The Q-carbon is created by taking a surface like glass and coating it with amorphous form of carbon. After this is done, a laser is fired at the carbon at the rate of 5 million times per second, which causes the temperature to rise very fast to an impressive 3,727º Celsius. The carbon is cooled afterwards. The idea behind this is that by changing the rate at which the laser heats and cools the carbon, diamond structures can be created at room temperature and pressure with relative ease.

Although the Q-carbon might also be potentially used as a jewel, it looks more promising to apply it in the field of medical research because of its ferromagnetic characteristics.

An electron microscope image of the diamonds made using the technique described by the researchers

“We can create diamond Nano needles or micro needles, Nano dots or large-area diamond films, with applications for drug delivery,” the research leader, Jay Narayan, said.

This discovery is indeed impressive, however, it looks like it will take a while before the Q-carbon can be be fully ready for commercial application. The team can so far only produce sheets if the material used to produce the Q-carbon is 20 nanometers to 500 nanometers thick, about 100 times thinner than the width of a typical human hair.

 “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,” admits Jay Narayan.

Source:  AIP Scitation