New Phase of Carbon Shows Unique Properties

q-carbonA new form of carbon that has unprecedented strength and magnetism properties is making its mark in the world of materials science.

Researchers from North Carolina State University have recently developed a new phase of carbon called Q-carbon—an extraordinarily strong material that differs from carbon’s other two solid forms.

The first solid phase of carbon is graphite. Graphite is composed by lining up carbon atoms to form thin sheets, which results in a thin and flaky material. The other phase of carbon, diamond, occurs when carbon atoms form a rigid crystal lattice.

Third Phase of Carbon

“We’ve now created a third solid phase of carbon,” says Jay Narayan, lead author of the research. “The only place it may be found in the natural world would be possibly in the core of some planets.”

Q-carbon differs from both existing phases of carbon, with unique characteristics that researchers did not even think were possible prior to its development, such as its magnetic and glowing qualities. To fully understand its novel qualities, it’s essential to understand how Q-carbon was developed.


Diamond Nanothreads to Build Space Elevator

18enfuwsagjl5jpgThe space elevator: a concept first conceptualized in the late 19th century that has been highly disputed and contested over the years. Many scientists and research institutions believe that the space elevator can be actualized in our lifetime. Up until 2014, Google X’s Rapid Evaluation R&D team was still working on bringing this concept to life. However, the project came to a halt due to the lack of advancement in the field of carbon nanotubes—the material that many deemed necessary to meet the strength requirements for the space elevator.

But work in the field of carbon nanotubes pressed on, and in 2014 diamond nanothreads were first synthesized. With strength properties similar to that of carbon nanotubes, researchers are once again interested in the development of the space elevator.

After testing from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, researchers are putting a breath of fresh air into the space elevator with large scale diamond nanothreads, which may potentially be the world’s strongest substance.