HONG KONG: Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a third type of carbon — one that is harder than diamonds and can glow when exposed to electric fields.
People often say that diamonds, which are the hardest type of carbon on the planet, are a girl’s best friend. While the latter might be true, the former is certainly not anymore.
Scientists at North Carolina State University have come up with an even harder type of carbon — one that can actually glow.
Called “Q-carbon,” the new compound was created by coating amorphous carbon on a hard base like sapphire, plastic or glass, and then shooting it up with lasers.
“We’ve now created a third solid phase of carbon,” Jay Narayan, a member of the research team and one of the leading authors of a paper published in the Journal of Applied Physics, said in an official statement. “The only place it may be found in the natural world would be possibly in the core of some planets.”
Narayan’s “third phase” of carbon is in reference to one of the few solid forms that the element can take in its pure form, either as graphite (AKA pencil lead, its first phase) or, as you’ve probably already guessed, as the latticework-shaped blueprints that construct your average diamond (which amount to its second phase). As for the amorphous carbon the scientists used as one of the base ingredients for Q-carbon? It’s not exactly carbon, but a substance that contains either remnants of the first or second phases, all of which leaves Q-carbon as its third phase.
Among its other properties, Q-carbon glows when it interacts with electric fields, and can be magnetized (AKA “ferromagnetic”). While the scientists opine that the substance can be used for incredibly-durable-yet-incredibly-thin screens, they’ll have to play around with it to figure out the full extent of what it can do.