Novel Carbon Structures

Two teams of theorists with independent lines of evidence now suggest that the superhard graphite's structure involves a 3D network of four-atom rings called body-centered tetragonal structure.

Novel carbon structureAlthough pure carbon expresses itself in diverse forms - including graphite, diamond, fullerenes, and graphene - the structure of an unusual superhard form of graphite created in high-pressure experiments in 2003 has remained elusive. Two teams of theorists with independent lines of evidence now suggest that the superhard graphite's structure involves a 3D network of four-atom rings called body-centered tetragonal (bct) structure. Umemoto et al.[Phys. Rev. Lett. 104, 125504 (2010)] reported simulations that agree with the 2003 data. More recently, Zhou et al. [Phys. Rev. B 82, 134126 (2010)] show that the energy barrier to create this new carbon is low enough that it could have appeared in the 2003 experiments, which were reported by  Mao et al. [Science 302, 425-427 (2003)].  A related theoretical study of this material was published last year by Li et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 1775506 (2009)].  These studies provide evidence for rich polymorphism that still remains to be understood for this fundamental element (see also Physical Review Focus - 29 October 2010).

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