Researchers find new phase of carbon, make diamond at room temperature

Q-carbon, a novel phase of solid carbon that differs from the known phases of graphite and diamond, has been found by North Carolina State University researchers. Additionally, they have devised a method for creating diamond-like structures out of Q-carbon at room temperature and under atmospheric pressure.

Phases are various iterations of the same substance. One of the solid forms of carbon is graphite, while another is diamond.

Jay Narayan, the John C. Fan Distinguished Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and the first author of three articles documenting the study, claims that "we've now created a third solid phase of carbon." The core of certain planets could be the sole site in the natural universe where it might be discovered.

Q-carbon has a few peculiar properties. For starters, other solid forms of carbon are not ferromagnetic, only this one is.

"We didn't even think that was possible," Narayan claims.

Q-carbon also glows when exposed to even very low quantities of energy and is tougher than diamond.

According to Narayan, Q-carbon is extremely promising for the creation of new electronic display technologies because of its durability and low work-function, or propensity to release electrons.

Q-carbon, however, may also be utilized to make a number of other single-crystal diamond objects. You must comprehend the method used to make Q-carbon in order to comprehend that.

A substrate, such as sapphire, glass, or a plastic polymer, is where researchers begin their work. The substrate is then covered with amorphous carbon, an elemental material that lacks a regular, distinct crystalline structure, unlike diamond or graphite. The last step involves firing a single, 200-nanosecond laser pulse at the carbon. The carbon is heated to 4,000 Kelvin (or around 3,727 degrees Celsius) during this pulse before being quickly cooled. One atmosphere, or the same pressure as the surrounding air, is used for this process.

Researchers can manage the procedure to create films between 20 nanometers and 500 nanometers thick. The final product is a film of Q-carbon.

The researchers can also regulate how rapidly the carbon cools by varying the substrates and the laser pulse length. They are able to produce diamond formations inside the Q-carbon by varying the cooling rate.

The production of high-temperature switches and power electronics, as well as medicine delivery, industrial operations, and nanodots or large-area diamond films, are all possible, according to Narayan. These diamond objects are more durable than polycrystalline materials because of their single-crystalline structure. We essentially employ a laser similar to those used in laser eye surgery, and everything is done at ambient temperature. Therefore, not only does this enable us to create new apps, but the procedure itself is also rather affordable.

Researchers may simply repeat the laser-pulse/cooling procedure if they wish to convert more Q-carbon to diamond.

Why would someone choose to create diamond nanodots over Q-carbon ones if Q-carbon is harder? Because there is still much to discover about this novel substance.

Q-carbon films can be created, and its characteristics are being studied, but Narayan notes that we still don't fully understand how to manage it. We can create diamond nanodots because we have a wealth of knowledge about diamond. The creation of Q-carbon nanodots and microneedles is still a mystery to us. We are attempting to resolve it.

On the methods for creating Q-carbon and diamonds, NC State has submitted two provisional patents.

Two articles that NC State Ph.D. student Anagh Bhaumik co-authored both discuss the work. The online edition of "Novel Phase of Carbon, Ferromagnetism and Conversion into Diamond" will appear in the Journal of Applied Physics on November 30. In the journal APL Materials, the article "Direct conversion of amorphous carbon into diamond at ambient pressures and temperatures in air" was released on October 7.