What is it about?

The common form of diamond is cubic. Yet, dense carbon materials formed by shock compression have been described as hexagonal diamond or lonsdaleite. Our study not only challenges the prevailing view of lonsdaleite as consisting of single-phase hexagonal diamond but reveals a remarkable complexity of intimately bonded diamond and graphene nanostructures, named diaphite, within the mineral.

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Why is it important?

The structural units and the complexity reported in the lonsdaleite samples can occur in a wide range of other carbonaceous materials produced by shock and static compression or by deposition from the vapour phase. We believe that that these structures can be targeted for advanced mechanical and electronic applications, giving us the ability to design materials that are not only ultra-hard but also malleable with tunable electronic properties. Such materials could have numerous practical applications including sensors, devices, electronics, nanomedicine and laser technology.

Perspectives

It was a great pleasure to work on a long-standing problem with an excellent group of scientists. I am very grateful to the late co-author Professor Paul McMillan for bringing our team together, his tireless enthusiasm for this work and his lasting contributions to the field of diamond research.

Peter Nemeth
Institute for Geological and Geochemical Research, Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences

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This page is a summary of: Shock-formed carbon materials with intergrown sp 3 - and sp 2 -bonded nanostructured units, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2203672119.
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