Physicists from the United States turned the graphene in the «green diamonds»

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Planinarski from USA has created a new carbon material that are not inferior in strength to diamond and as flexible as rubberPhysicists from the United States turned the graphene in the «green diamonds»© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina

Compression of graphene ultra-high pressure turned it into a heavy-duty yet flexible material, which in the future will serve as the basis for armor plating and spacecraft, according to an article published in the journal Science Advances.

«Lightweight materials with high strength and elasticity, similar to that which we have created, are crucial for those areas of industry and engineering, where weight reduction is the main objective regardless of the issue price. Moreover, we believe that this method of synthesis of new forms of carbon will allow us to create fundamentally new materials yet unknown to science,» said jishen Zhao (Zhao Zhisheng) of the Carnegie institution for science in Washington (USA).

Over the past two decades scientists have created a few super-strong materials based on carbon, silicon carbide and other materials, which are able to withstand a pressure up to hundreds of thousands and millions of times greater than atmospheric. The study of their properties is helping scientists understand the structure and behavior of the Earth’s core and its distant «cousin» of other stars, and brings us closer to the creation of high-temperature superconductors and other wonderful materials.

Zhao and his colleagues discovered a new form of carbon, which has extremely useful practical properties, watching what happens to another recently opened «version» of this element is graphene «the Nobel» carbon – in compression to extremely high pressures.

Jamming glued «bundles» of graphene sheets to a pressure above atmospheric to 250 thousand times, scientists have discovered that they turn into a material that simultaneously possesses some properties of diamond and some properties of graphene due to the presence of a typical «diamond» and «graphene» bonds between carbon atoms.

This substance, which scientists have called a «compressed glassy carbon», has the strength, not inferior to the diamond, but it may take several times, like graphene.

In particular, the most successful samples of this material are inferior to diamond in strength only 3 times, but they stretch and recover their shape no worse than rubber. As shown by further experiments, the particles are compressed glassy carbon can scratch the silicon carbide, rubies, sapphires and other precious stones, which confirmed its high durability.

In its internals, as shown by x-ray photos of slices of this material, it is a set of curved graphene sheets, «glued» together with small Islands of carbon atoms connected in the same way as the atoms within the crystal lattice of the diamond.

The number of these connections and their location, as noted by Zhao, depended on how much scientists were heated and compressed graphene, which allows very flexible control over the properties of this form of carbon.

Through such a device the density of this material is a record low – only 2 grams per cubic centimeter, which is approximately equal to the density of Kevlar or human bone, and significantly less than the same indicator for iron, copper and other metals.

This, in turn, allows the use of the design of these «stretched diamond» to create ultra-light vests off, housings and covering satellites and space ships and other purposes that require low weight and extremely high strength. In addition, compressed glassy carbon can be the basis for future electronics, as electrons within it can behave as unusual, as in graphene.