Hard and transparent glass is used for various purposes such as tableware, furniture, and glass windows, but it is a material that is prone to cracks or scratches in its atomic structure. However, a Chinese research team has developed a new carbon-based material that has a hardness enough to damage diamonds while adopting a glass atomic structure.
Diamond, a carbon allotrope, is a hard substance with a crystal structure in which each carbon atom is covalently bonded to four adjacent atoms. Because of this property, diamonds are not only pampered as jewelry, but are also used as abrasives and cutters. In contrast to diamonds and the like, materials in which atoms and molecules are not arranged in a regular arrangement are said to be amorphous.
The research team at Yanshan University in China, which has been developing hard materials for a long time, conducted an experiment to pulverize Buckminsterfullerene, a spherical molecule made of 60 carbon atoms, like a soccer ball, with the goal of developing a transparent and hard material. In the experiment, the research team heated Buckminster Fullerene at an extreme pressure of 25 GPa at a high temperature of 1,000 to 1,200 degrees.
In addition, the Buckminster Fullerene was not brought to a high temperature and high pressure state at once, but was slowly cooled after raising the heat and pressure over 12 hours or more. There has been a research team that crushed Buckminster fullerene before, but it is said that no research team has taken such extreme conditions for fear of diamond formation under extreme high temperature and high pressure conditions.
As a result, the research team succeeded in making a transparent material called AM-III. It has been confirmed that small crystal structures are mixed with glass-like disordered rows of atoms. As a result of investigating the characteristics of AM-III, the research team said that AM-III recorded 113 GPa in the Vickers hardness test, which examines the hardness by pressing the hardness of diamond. Considering that natural diamond score is 60-100 GPa in Vickers hardness test, AM-III is harder than natural diamond.
Also, when I scratched the flat surface of the natural diamond with AM-III, the natural diamond was scratched. The team reports that AM-III is the hardest amorphous material known to date. It is still difficult to produce enough AM-III to be widely used in commercial processes, but bulletproof glass made from AM-III is expected to be 20 to 100 times stronger than general mainstream products. In addition, AM-III is a semiconductor with a 1.5-2.2 eV bandcap similar to silicon as well as rigid, and is suitable for use in devices that operate under extreme conditions such as high pressure and design. AM-III is attractive because it can be manufactured in various shapes and sizes, and the possibility of being used in weapons and solar cells in the future is also reported. Related information can be found here.