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Diamond joins the realm of 2-D thin films, study suggests

Squeezing graphene produces ‘diamondene’

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7:00am, July 31, 2017
diamonds are forever

GOING FLAT  Scientists report evidence that they have created 2-D sheets of diamond by squeezing a pair of graphene sheets together.

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Diamonds are going 2-D. The superhard form of carbon can be forged in thin films known as diamondene, new evidence suggests. While graphite, the form of carbon found in pencils, can be made into atom-thick sheets known as graphene, scientists have struggled to create two-dimensional films of its relative, diamond.

When a pair of graphene sheets are squeezed to pressures around tens of thousands of times that of Earth’s atmosphere, the crystal structure appears to change, hinting that it has morphed from graphite to diamond. Physicist Luiz Gustavo Cançado of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and colleagues report the new finding July 21 in Nature Communications.

“It’s the thinnest possible diamond,” says theoretical physicist Pavel Sorokin of the National University of Science and Technology MISiS in Moscow, who was not involved in the new study. Diamond is known for being extremely hard and stiff, he says, and “now we can use the exciting properties of diamond in the nanoworld.” Diamondene is also predicted to be magnetic and may be useful for spintronics, a technique that uses the spin of electrons to store data.

The scientists monitored the structure of the carbon crystal using a technique called Raman spectroscopy, shining laser light on the material to observe how the atoms’ vibrations changed under pressure (SN: 8/2/08, p. 22). This method provides indirect evidence that diamondene has formed. A next step is to scatter X-rays or electrons off the material to be sure of its structure.

Carbon crush

Under pressure, two sheets of graphene, (illustrated at left, with carbon atoms in gray) combine into a single sheet of diamondene (right). Atoms of hydrogen (blue) and oxygen (red) come from water used to transmit the squeezing forces to the graphene.

Citations

L.G.P. Martins et al. Raman evidence for pressure-induced formation of diamondene. Nature Communications. Published online July 21, 2017. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00149-8.

Further Reading

M. Rosen. ‘Q-carbon’ may offer quick route to diamonds. Science News. Vol. 189, January 9, 2016, p. 9.

A. Grant. Graphene’s allure becomes magnetic. Science News. Vol. 187 No. 3, February 7, 2015, p. 7.

A. Grant. Phosphorene introduced as graphene alternative. Science News. Vol. 185, April 19, 2014, p. 13.

D. Powell. Silicene: It could be the new graphene. Science News. Vol. 179, April 23, 2011, p. 14.

A. Yeager. Insightful light. Science News. Vol. 174, August 2, 2008, p. 22.

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