Scientists Can Grow Elastic Diamond Nanoneedles

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Who would have thought that the strongest natural material on Earth can be grown and turned into an elastic material?

A diamond’s properties are what makes it stiff and a great thermal conductor, it has high chemical resistance and is highly transparent. This material is exceptional in scientific applications and technology, but its brittleness makes it difficult to work with.

Elastic Diamond Nanoneedles That Can Stretch and Bend up to 12%

But now, there is a new type of diamond, grown by teams from the Institute for Basic Science and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, City University of Hong Kong, and Nanyang Technological University. The international effort led to the discovery and creation of a new kind of diamond that can bend and that can be stretched if it’s made into ultrafine needles.

Renowned Professor Feng Ding and his team at the Center for Multidimensional Carbon Materials (CMCM), from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) at UNIST, have teamed up with researchers from all over the globe. Together, they created a study and published it this week in the journal Science.

The team of researchers proved that nanoscale diamond needles could stretch, bend, (and then return to the initial shape) for as much as 9% without breaking. This discovery could be used in many technologies. The optical, optomechanical, magnetic, phononic, and catalytic properties of the diamond can be used through elastic strain engineering, writes the study:

“Ultrahigh elasticity of diamond is due to the paucity of internal defects.” Professor Ding added that diamonds are not perfect:

“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.”

After simulations, the researchers discovered how much they could strain the diamond needles without breaking. Diamonds without any defect can stretch by a maximum of 12% and not break. The ones with a defect can only stretch for about 9%:

“Diamond needles stretched and flexed as much as 9% without any breakage.”

These Diamonds Will Help Technology Evolve

The discovery will surely enhance many technologies: bioimaging and biosensing, strain-mediated nanomechanical resonators, optomechanical devices, and even strong nanostructures. Professor Ding also explained that, in the future, elastic diamond needles will be used in flexible or foldable displays.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere