Scientists led by Chinas Jilin University have created an ultra-hard glass that is harder than natural diamond. The so-called carbon glass was produced, which also has the highest thermal conductivity, forming at 30 GPa and 1598 °F, and the achieved hardness is about 102 GPa. Pa, making it one of the toughest glass materials in existence today, is second only to recently synthesized AM-III carbon (113 GPa).
“Making glass with these superior properties will open the door to new applications,” said researcher and geochemist Yingwei Fei from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.
The researcher added, “The relatively low temperature at which we were able to manufacture this new ultra-hard diamond glass makes mass production more practical.”
Carbon can take a variety of stable forms, which vary based on its molecular structure, some like highly structured graphite and diamond, while others are unstructured, or “amorphous”, like ordinary glass.
The hardness of each shape is demonstrated by its internal bonds. Graphite has a two-dimensional arrangement of bonds, with layers of highly bonded carbon atoms in a flat hexagonal pattern, while diamond has a three-dimensional arrangement of bonds, giving it a more uniform hardness.
The team turned to Buckminster fullerene, a form of carbon made up of 60 atoms arranged in a hollow football-like structure, to turn it into a diamond-like carbon glass. The full results of the study are published in Nature.