New glass harder than diamond introduced by scientists

In an article published in the journal National Science Review, a group of scientists affiliated with different educational institutions around the world presented a new type of glass. The material is approximately 10 times stronger than steel and, according to the team, harder than diamond.

The novelty, dubbed AM-III, they argue, could revolutionize the production of bulletproof vests and even the development of solar panels. This is because its composition, with high wear resistance, makes it a semiconductor with an energy gap equivalent to that of silicon.

When you look at a diamond under a microscope, you notice that carbon atoms and molecules that create its crystal structure are well aligned, unlike what happens with traditional glass elements. This feature explains the difference in resistance between them.

In any case, there are ways to rearrange the order of particles, and previous studies have shown that exposing graphite to conditions of high temperature and pressure gives rise to products similar to natural gemstones. It was on this approach that the team bet – and the results were surprising.

AM-III is harder than diamond!
AM-III is harder than diamond!Source: Dimitris Christou/Pixabay/Reproduction

Exceptional Score

In their research, the team heated and compressed fullerenes, carbon structures that have shapes that resemble hollow cages, at 1,200 °C and 25 gigapascals for approximately 12 hours, taking the same time to cool them – a slow process necessary to avoid its transformation into the aforementioned diamond. Then came AM-III, a yellowish compound.

Unlike ordinary glass and jewelry, AM-III does not have a defined microscopic aspect, as it is made up of ordered microstructures such as crystals combined with unordered ones. Still, it reached 113 gigapascals in the Vickers hardness test, a material strength classification method. The average of natural diamonds, which can be easily scraped by the invention, is 50 to 70 gigapascals.

“The emergence of this type of amorphous, semiconductor, ultra-hard and ultra-strong material guarantees excellent candidates for the most demanding practical applications”, conclude the scientists.

ARTICLE National Science Review: doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwab140

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