Researchers Develop Novel Method to Grow Elastic Diamonds

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Researchers developed a novel method to grow elastic diamonds, according to a study conducted on May 27, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST). They found that brittle diamonds can be bent and stretched elastically when made into ultrafine needles. According to the researchers, the nanoscale diamond needles could flex and stretch by as much as nine percent without breaking and then, could return to its original shape. This discovery completely proves the previous theories wrong, which says that diamonds are brittle. The results of this study might lead to unprecedented possibilities for tuning its optical, optomechanical, magnetic, phononic, and catalytic properties through elastic strain engineering.

The ordinary diamonds can stretch less than one percent only. Professor Ming’s group handled the chemical calculation and the analysis of the crystal structure of diamond and ascribed that the ultrahigh elasticity of the diamond nanoneedles is due to the paucity of internal defects and the relatively smooth surface. Professor Feng Ding said, “Diamonds, either natural or artificial, have internal defects in their crystal structure. When outside force is applied to these defects, they can crack and eventually break.”

Researchers conducted detailed simulations to determine how much stress and strain the diamond needles could accommodate without breaking. It was found that the corresponding maximum local stress was close to the known theoretical limit achievable with a perfect, defect-free diamond. Also, the defect-free diamonds can stretch by, as much as 12% without breaking. The nanoscale diamond needles were successfully fabricated by plasma-induced etching of diamond thin films deposited on Si substrates through bias-assisted chemical vapor deposition (CVD). This enabled them to demonstrate the ultralarge, fully reversible elastic deformation of nanoscale (~300 nanometers) single-crystalline and polycrystalline diamond needles.

Furthermore, researchers are expecting that their findings could lead to performance enhancement in applications, involving bioimaging and biosensing, strain-mediated nanomechanical resonators, drug delivery, data storage, and optomechanical devices, as well as ultrastrength nanostructures.

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