"Revealing the formation mechanism of ultrahard nanotwinned diamond from onion carbon"

Hu Tang: Xiaohong Yuan, Pengfei Yu, Qingyang Hub, Mingzhi Wang, Yansun Yao, Lailei Wu, QinZou, Yujiao Ke, Yucheng Zhao, Lei Wang, Xiaopu Li, Wenge Yang, Huiyang Gou, Ho-kwang Mao, Wendy L. Mao; Carbon, 12/08/17.

Additional Authors: Xiaohong Yuan, Pengfei Yu, Qingyang Hub, Mingzhi Wang, Yansun Yao, Lailei Wu, QinZou, Yujiao Ke, Yucheng Zhao, Lei Wang, Xiaopu Li, Wenge Yang, Huiyang Gou, Ho-kwang Mao, Wendy L. Mao

Abstract:

Controlled nanotwinning is an effective way to enhance the mechanical properties of materials. Recent discovery of nanotwinned diamond converted from carbon nano-onions with high-density defects reveals that the presence of nanotwinned structures can increase the hardness of the product to exceed that of natural diamond by a surprisingly large margin. To understand the mechanism of nanotwinning, the microscopic transformation pathway from carbon nano-onions to nanotwinned diamond was investigated in the present study. We carried out a direct high-pressure high-temperature synthesis of nanotwinned diamond from onion carbon without high-density defects. The obtained nanotwinned diamond possesses an exceptionally high Vickers hardness of 215 GPa at 4.9 N. The transformation path was analyzed using aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM) which suggests a martensitic process strongly influenced by the pressure-temperature conditions. Specifically, the appearance of {111} nanotwinned structure and stacking faults was determined by the characteristics of the onion shells, while the accumulation of the stress due to the sliding of the shells cause the crystal to re-align along the shear direction. These findings not only clarify the direct transformation mechanism from onion-like precursors to nanotwinned diamond, but also have broad implications for further exploration of new materials with exceptional properties.