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With the help of ELKH researchers, complex diamond-like nanostructures created during an asteroid impact have been identified.

Péter Németh, Senior Scientific Fellow at the Institute of Geology and Geochemistry of the ELKH Center for Research in Astronomy and Earth Sciences (CSFK), and Zsolt Fogarassy, ​​Illés Levente and Béla Pécz, researchers at the Institute of Technical Physics and Materials Science at ELKH Energy Science Research Center (EK) with Fellow aliens in the Arizona desert in 1891, a mineral called lonsdaleite from the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite was studied using state-of-the-art electron microscopic, crystallographic and spectroscopic tests — written in ELKH’s announcement sent to MTI on Wednesday.

According to their interpretation, during the collision of an asteroid, a high-energy and high-speed shock wave is generated, which can generate high temperatures in the short term and extreme pressure. A special geological process favors the development of non-equilibrium conditions and the formation of materials with exceptional properties.

Named after the pioneering British crystallologist Professor Kathleen Lonsdale, this mineral was previously thought to consist of diamond with a pure hexagonal structure, which is different from the cubic-shaped crystalline diamond.

The results of the current research call into question the simplistic understanding of the lonsdaleite structure. Researchers have demonstrated that lonsdaleite with unique properties, created during an asteroid impact about 50,000 years ago, is actually a so-called diaphyte consisting of various variations of graphite diamond nanostructures, which is actually the common structure of the two materials in one. crystal lattice; The mineral also has many layer defects in the repeating patterns of the atomic layers.

Based on the results, the identification of different types of intercalation between graphene and diamond structures may contribute to a better understanding of the pressure and temperature conditions that occur during an asteroid impact.

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The researchers found that due to the unique environment of carbon atoms at the interface between diamond and graphene, the distance between graphene layers is significantly different from normal. It was also recognized that the diaphragm structure is responsible for the emergence of the hitherto unexplained Raman spectral band. Thanks to this, diaphyte structures in diamond can now be identified with a simple spectroscopic technique, without the need for costly and labor-intensive electron microscopy.

They went on to say that the complex structures identified in the Canyon Diablo sample may occur in many other carbonaceous materials. Researchers believe that not only the dynamic shock wave that arises during an asteroid impact, but also static pressure at high pressure and temperature, as well as chemical vapor deposition, can create quasi-like structures.

They added that through the controlled growth of the layers, it is possible to design plastics that are both highly rigid and at the same time with tunable electronic properties from conductor to insulator.

They write that the discovery paves the way for the design of new types of diamond-like materials with exciting mechanical and electronic properties, so new applications could be created in many industrial fields, from abrasives to electronics and nanomedicine to laser technology.

They also stated in the announcement that the researchers think in appreciation of the late co-author Professor Paul Macmillan, who played an important role in establishing the research group and contributed with tireless enthusiasm to the successes in diamond research. .

The project was implemented with the support of the NKFI Fund and the János Bolyai Research Grant of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, among others.

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The study summarizing the findings was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on July 22.