November 25, Britain's Daily Mail website reported that it might soon be time to throw away the bulky cell phone case because scientists have created a super-hard glass that is harder than natural diamonds. The so-called carbon glass, which also has the highest thermal conductivity of any known glass, was developed by researchers at Jilin University in China. The material achieved a hardness of around 102 GPa, making it one of the hardest glasses known, second only to the recently synthesized carbon AM-III with a hardness of around 113 GPa.
One of the authors of the research report, Fei Yingwei, a geochemist at the Carnegie Institute of Science in Washington, USA, said: "The development of glass with such excellent properties will open the door to new applications."< /p>
He added: "We have been able to synthesize this new superhard diamond glass at relatively low temperatures, which greatly simplifies mass production."
Carbon can take various stable forms that differ in molecular structure. Some structures are highly ordered (such as graphite and diamond), while others are disordered or "amorphous" (such as ordinary glass).
The hardness of each shape depends on the chemical bonds within it.
Dr. Fei Yingwei explained, "Synthesizing an amorphous carbon material with a three-dimensional bond has been a long-term goal." He said: "The key is to find the right source material and transform it with pressure."
Because diamond has an extremely high melting point of 4027 degrees Celsius, it cannot be used as a starting material for creating diamond-like glass.
In fact, the research team turned to fullerenes, a 60-atom form of carbon located in a hollow cage-like structure, like a soccer ball, which gives it its colloquial name.
Back in 1996, the discoverer of the buckyball received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
To transform the fullerenes into diamond-like carbon glass, the researchers compressed and heated them using what is known as a large-cavity polyhedral anvil press.
This process collapses globular molecules, resulting in local disorder while maintaining diamond-like short-range and intermediate order. Although the resulting glass is small, only about 1 millimeter, it is enough to shape it.
The research team said: "This discovery helps us understand advanced amorphous materials and synthesize bulk amorphous materials using high pressure and high temperature techniques."
The discovery "could open up new applications for amorphous solid materials," they added.
The full report of the study has been published in the British journal Nature.
Source: reference news network