Scientists Found a New Material, Possibly Harder Than Diamond

Revolutionary Breakthrough in Science: Ultra-Hard Carbon Nitrides Unveiled

In a groundbreaking revelation, scientists have unveiled an extraordinarily resilient substance that rivals diamond as the toughest material on Earth. This significant development is highlighted in the latest Chemical News, featured in the journal Advanced Materials. The study reveals that subjecting carbon and nitrogen precursors to intense heat and pressure results in the formation of carbon nitrides, surpassing even cubic boron nitride—diamond’s second hardest counterpart.

Industrial Implications of Ultra-Hard Carbon Nitrides

This scientific breakthrough not only adds a new chapter to Chemical News but also opens doors to versatile materials applicable across various industrial sectors. Experts foresee applications in protective coatings for automobiles and spacecraft, durable cutting tools, solar panels, and photodetectors.

Efforts to harness the potential of carbon nitrides date back to the 1980s, where their exceptional attributes, particularly high heat resistance, were first noted. Despite over three decades of research and numerous synthesis attempts, credible outcomes remained elusive until now.

International Collaboration Yields Breakthrough Results

An international team of scientists, led by researchers from the Center for Science at Extreme Conditions at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with experts from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, and the University of Linköping, Sweden, has achieved this groundbreaking feat. By subjecting various carbon nitrogen precursors to pressures ranging from 70 to 135 gigapascals and heating them to temperatures exceeding 1,500°C—equivalent to around 1 million times atmospheric pressure—the team identified three carbon nitride compounds with essential components for super-hardness.

To analyze the atomic structure under these extreme conditions, intense X-ray beams illuminated the samples at three particle accelerators—the European Synchrotron Research Facility in France, the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron in Germany, and the Advanced Photon Source in the United States. Remarkably, all three compounds retained their diamond-like qualities upon returning to normal pressure and temperature.

Potential Applications and Astonishing Properties

Further computations and experiments indicate additional properties, including photoluminescence and high energy density, suggesting vast potential applications for these ultra-incompressible carbon nitrides as ultimate engineering materials to rival diamonds. Dr. Dominique Laniel expressed astonishment, stating, “Upon the discovery of the first of these new carbon nitride materials, we were incredulous to have produced materials researchers have been dreaming of for the last three decades.” Dr. Florian Trybel emphasized the significance of this collaborative research in bridging the gap between high-pressure materials synthesis and industrial applications, foreseeing new possibilities in the field.

This breakthrough not only captures attention in the realm of Chemical News but also signifies a transformative step towards innovative materials with far-reaching implications across diverse industries.