New form of carbon that’s hard as a rock



Scientists developed a form of ultrastrong, lightweight carbon that is also elastic and electrically conductive. A material could serve a wide variety of applications from aerospace engineering to military armor.

Carbon electrons allow numerous self-bonding combinations that give rise to a range of materials with varying properties.

Scientists pressurized and heated a structurally disordered form of carbon called glassy carbon. The glassy carbon material brought 250,000 time’s normal atmospheric pressure and heated approximately 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to create the new strong and elastic carbon.

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Scientists had previously tried subjecting glassy carbon to high pressures at both room temperature and extremely high temperatures. But, cold-synthesized material not maintain its structure when brought back to ambient pressure. Under the extremely hot conditions nanocrystalline diamonds were formed.


The newly created carbon is comprised of both graphite-like and diamond-like bonding motifs, which gives rise to the unique combination of properties. Under the high-pressure synthesis conditions, disordered layers within the glassy carbon buckle, merge, and connect in various ways.

This process creates an overall structure that lacks a long-range spatial order, but has a short-range spatial organization on the nanometer scale.

Zhisheng Zhao, a former Carnegie fellow, said, light materials with high strength and robust elasticity are very desirable for applications where weight savings are of the utmost importance, even more than material cost.

This new method could be refined to create other extraordinary forms of carbon and entirely different classes of materials.

More information:[Science Advances]