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A team of Carnegie high-pressure physicists have created a form of carbon that's hard as diamond, but amorphous, meaning it lacks the large-scale structural repetition of a diamond's crystalline structure. Their findings are reported in Nature Communications.
Carbon is an element of seemingly infinite possibilities, because the configuration of its electrons allows for numerous self-bonding combinations that give rise to a range of materials with varying properties.
Example - Forms - Carbon - Coal - Structure
For example, some forms of carbon, such as coal, are what's called amorphous, meaning that they lack the long-range repetitive structure that makes up a crystal.
Other forms of carbon are crystalline, including both transparent, superhard diamonds, and soft, opaque graphite. They have different properties, in part, because the carbon atoms that comprise them are bonded in different configurations. Diamonds have a bonding structure that's called sp3 and the carbon in graphite is held together with what's called sp2 bonds.
Changes - Configuration - Carbon - Bonds - Substances
Changes to the configuration of the carbon bonds that shape any of these substances can be induced by altering external conditions, such as temperature and pressure, similar to how water freezes into ice or boils into steam.
The Carnegie team—including lead author Zhidan "Denise" Zeng, as well as...
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