Scientists use “Bucky ball” to synthesize a new type of superhard diamond glass

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4ad60e73eb9d5d4 - Scientists use "Bucky ball" to synthesize a new type of superhard diamond glass

when it comes to understanding the characteristics of a material, function follows form. How atoms are chemically bonded to each other and the resulting structural arrangement determine the physical quality of a material – both those that can be observed by the naked eye and those that can only be found through scientific exploration

carbon is unmatched in its ability to form stable structures – either alone or in combination with other elements. Some forms of carbon are highly organized with repetitive crystal patterns. Others are more disordered, a feature called amorphous. The type of bond that binds carbon based materials together determines their hardness

Fei Yingwei explained: “synthesizing an amorphous carbon material with three-dimensional bonds is a long-term goal. The trick is to find a suitable starting material and convert it under pressure.”

Scientists use “Bucky ball” to synthesize a new type of superhard diamond glass

Richard Carlson, director of the earth and Planetary Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, added: “Carnegie researchers have been at the forefront of this field for decades, using laboratory technology to generate extreme pressure to produce new materials or simulate conditions deep inside the planet.”

due to its extremely high melting point, it is impossible to synthesize diamond glass with diamond as the starting point. However, the research team led by Liu Bingbing and Yao Mingguang (a former Carnegie visiting scholar) of Jilin University made their breakthrough by using a form of carbon composed of 60 molecules arranged into a hollow ball. The Nobel Prize winning material, informally known as the “Bucky ball”, is heated enough to collapse its football like structure to induce disorder, and then turns carbon into crystalline diamonds under pressure

the team used a large multi ampoule press to synthesize diamond glass. The glass is large enough to be characterized. Its characteristics are confirmed by various advanced high-resolution techniques for detecting atomic structure

Fei Yingwei explained: “the birth of a glass with such excellent performance will open the door to new applications. The use of new glass materials depends on making large pieces of glass, which was a challenge in the past. The relatively low temperature at which we can synthesize this new super hard diamond glass makes mass production more practical.”