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‘Q-carbon’ may offer quick route to diamonds

New phase of element joins diamond, graphite in exclusive club, scientists claim

2:21pm, December 4, 2015
crystal specks

CRYSTAL GROWTH  A new way to make tiny specks of diamond uses a laser to convert carbon into “Q-carbon,” from which seeds of crystal can grow on sapphire, as shown here in this electron micrograph.

A glow-in-the dark, magnetic, stronger-than-diamond material might be a bizarre new form of carbon.

Scientists call it Q-carbon. After diamond and graphite, it’s the third known solid phase, or form, of the element, materials scientists Jagdish Narayan and Anagh Bhaumik report December 2 in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Q-carbon’s unusual properties make it ideal for all sorts of applications, Narayan says, from electronic displays to abrasive coatings on tools to biomedical sensors that are compatible with the body. The new material could also offer scientists an easy way to manufacture diamonds.

“If these claims stand up, the formation of a new phase of carbon would be extraordinary,” says Penn State University chemist John Badding. But, he notes, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Carbon exists in

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