New Form Of Carbon That’s Hard As A Rock, Yet Elastic, Like Rubber

New Form Of Carbon Thats Hard As A Rock, Yet Elastic, Like Rubber - Featured Graphene Graphene Production
Visualization of the different types of diamond-like linkages (red spheres) formed at curved surfaces or between the layers of (black spheres) in this new type of compressed glassy carbon. Credit: Timothy Strobel.

A team including several Carnegie scientists has developed a form of ultrastrong, lightweight carbon that is also elastic and electrically conductive. A material with such a unique combination of properties could serve a wide variety of applications from engineering to military armor.

Carbon is an element of seemingly infinite possibilities. This is because the configuration of its electrons allows for numerous self-bonding combinations that give rise to a range of with varying properties. For example, transparent, superhard diamonds, and opaque graphite, which is used for both pencils and industrial lubricant, are comprised solely of carbon.

In this international collaboration between Yanshan University and Carnegie—which included Carnegie’s Zhisheng Zhao, Timothy Strobel, Yoshio Kono, Jinfu Shu, Ho-kwang “Dave” Mao, Yingwei Fei, and Guoyin Shen—scientists pressurized and heated a structurally disordered form of carbon called glassy carbon. The glassy carbon starting material was brought to about 250,000 times normal atmospheric pressure and heated to approximately 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit to create the new strong and elastic carbon. Their findings are published by Science Advances.

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