Scientists unveil a new material that could outshine diamond

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In the world of science and materials, a major breakthrough has just occurred.

Researchers have introduced a new substance that’s so tough, it might even give diamonds a run for their money.

This exciting development, featured in the journal Advanced Materials, marks the end of a long-standing quest to create an ultra-hard material.

So, what’s this new material? It’s a type of carbon nitride. Carbon nitrides are made by combining carbon and nitrogen under intense conditions.

Think of them like distant cousins of diamonds, only possibly tougher.

Until now, cubic boron nitride held the title of the second hardest material, right after diamond. But these new carbon nitrides might just steal the spotlight.

Why is this important? Well, imagine having materials that are almost unbreakable. They could revolutionize many industries.

We could have car and spaceship coatings that resist almost any damage, cutting tools that last incredibly long, and even more efficient solar panels and devices for capturing light.

The journey to this discovery has been long. Back in the 1980s, scientists first noticed that carbon nitrides had some pretty impressive qualities, like resisting heat really well. But despite over 30 years of trying, no one could quite get these materials right.

That’s where an international team of scientists comes in. They’re from the Center for Science at Extreme Conditions at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Bayreuth in Germany, and the University of Linköping in Sweden. Together, they’ve finally cracked the code.

The team’s approach was like something out of a superhero movie. They exposed different types of carbon nitrogen mixtures to pressures over a million times stronger than the air pressure we feel every day.

Then, they cranked up the heat to more than 1,500°C. That’s hotter than lava!

To see what was happening inside these mixtures, they used powerful X-ray beams at three major facilities in France, Germany, and the USA. And voilà, they found that three types of carbon nitride compounds had the right structure to be super-hard.

What’s even more amazing is that these compounds kept their diamond-like toughness even after being brought back to normal pressure and temperature. It’s like they have superpowers!

But wait, there’s more. These materials don’t just have super strength. They can also glow (that’s called photoluminescence) and hold a lot of energy in a small space. This means they could have even more uses than we thought.

The scientists are thrilled. Dr. Dominique Laniel, one of the lead researchers, said that finding these materials was like a dream come true.

They’ve been hoping to make something like this for decades. Dr. Florian Trybel added that these materials prove we can make super-strong substances under conditions like those deep inside the Earth. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for future technology.

In short, this discovery isn’t just a scientific win. It’s a glimpse into a future where materials are stronger, more versatile, and more amazing than ever before.

Keep an eye out, because these carbon nitrides might just be the next big thing in material science!

Source: University of Edinburgh.