While studying diamonds inside an ancient meteorite, scientists have found a strange, intertwined microscopic structure that has never been seen before.
An interlocking form of graphite and diamond, the structure has unique properties that could one day be used for super-fast charging or for developing new types of electronics, the researchers say.
The diamond formations were locked inside the Canyon Diablo meteorite, which struck Earth 50,000 years ago and was first discovered in Arizona in 1891. The diamonds in this meteorite are not the kind most people are familiar with.
Most known diamonds were formed about 150 kilometers (90 mi) below Earth’s surface, where temperatures exceed 1,093 °C (2,000 °F). The carbon atoms within these diamonds are arranged in a cubic shape.
In contrast, the diamonds inside the Canyon Diablo meteorite are known as lonsdaleites. , Named after British crystallographer Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, the first female professor at University College London , and has a hexagonal crystal structure. These diamonds are formed only under extremely high pressure and temperature.
Although scientists have successfully created Lonsdaleite in a laboratory , Using gunpowder and compressed air to propel a graphite disc up a wall at 24,100 kph (15,000 mph) , Lonsdaleite otherwise only forms when asteroids collide with Earth at extremely high speeds.
RELATED: Diamond Removed From Inside Earth Contains Never-Before-Seen Mineral
Researchers found something strange when studying Lonsdaleite in the meteorite. Instead of the pure hexagonal structures they were expecting, the researchers found growth of another carbon-based material called graphene interlocking with diamond.
These growths are known as diaphytes, and inside meteorites, they form in particularly intriguing layered patterns. There are “stacking faults” in the middle of these layers, meaning the layers don’t align perfectly, the researchers said in a statement.
The discovery of diaphytes in the meteorite suggests that the material may be found in other carbonaceous materials, which means it may be readily available to use as a resource, the scientists wrote in the study. The discovery also gives researchers a better understanding of the pressure and temperature needed to build the structure.
Graphene is made of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon, arranged in hexagons. Although research on this material is still ongoing, the material has many potential applications.
Since it is as light as a feather and as strong as a diamond, transparent and highly conductive, and 1 million times thinner than a human hair, it could one day be used for more targeted drugs, tinier electronics lightNing-Fast Charging Speed, or faster and bendier technology, the researchers said.
And now that researchers have discovered these graphene growths inside meteorites, it’s possible to learn more about how they formed. , And thus how to make them in the laboratory.
Christoph Salzmann, a chemist at University College London, said, “Through controlled layer growth of structures, it should be possible to design materials that are both ultra-hard as well as ductile, with an electronically adjustable range from a conductor to an insulator. qualities.” and a co-author of a paper describing the research said in the statement.
The strange new structures were described on July 22 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,
Never-before-seen crystals found in perfectly preserved meteorite dust
Massive meteorite impact created hottest mantle rock ever
These meteorites contain all the building blocks of DNA
This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.