New Carbon Allotrope DiscoveredCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 22, 2012 03:55PM
Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the Universe and is quickly becoming one of the most useful as its different forms have so many different properties. Allotropes are materials that have the same composition but different internal structure. Some allotropes of carbon are graphite, diamond, graphene, nanotubes, and buckyballs. Now researchers at the Carnegie Institution have discovered a new allotrope through a combination of buckyballs, solvent, and pressure.
The researchers started with what are called carbon-60 cages, which is a round, hollow shape made of buckyballs (which contain 60 atoms each). Using a xylene solvent in the spaces between the balls, the researchers created a new structure, and started subjecting it to high pressures. This pressure caused the cage structure to collapse into something more amorphous, but it would snap back when the pressure was reduced, unless it exceeded 320,000 atmospheres. At this the new structure was permanent, which is important if this new allotrope is even going to find a practical use.
As we already know with graphene, carbon allotropes can have some amazing properties, so this new material will likely show us something interesting. Already we know it is harder than diamond as it was able to indent the diamond anvil used for the high pressure experiments.