50,000-year-old meteorite could revolutionize electronics and fast charging

Scientists have discovered a fascinating and intricate little structure that had not been observed before while examining diamonds inside an ancient meteorite.

According to the researchers, the structure, an interlocking form of graphite and diamond, has special qualities that could one day be used to create faster charging or new types of electronics.

The “Diablo Canyon” meteorite, as it’s called, hit the Earth about 50,000 years ago, and was first discovered in Arizona in 1891. This meteorite is made up of ~90% Should~ 1-4% yesand up to 8.5% trolliteGraphite nodules (FeS&C). The original mass was estimated to be 100 feet in diameter and about 60,000 tons.

Strange diamond structures are believed to have formed and were trapped in the meteorite during this event.

This meteorite contains diamonds, although not the common types. Most diamonds form nearly 90 miles (150 kilometers) below the Earth’s surface, where temperatures can reach over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1093 degrees Celsius). The temperature and pressure at this depth cause the carbon atoms to arrange in cubic shapes.

In contrast, the diamond inside the “Canyon Diablo” meteorite has a hexagonal crystal structure and is known as Lonsdalete (Named after British crystallographer Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, the first female professor at University College London.) These types of crystals have been discovered, they can only form at incredibly high temperatures and pressures.

Scientists have replicated similar structures, but they are usually only found in meteorites

Scientists made a success Lonsdalete In the lab — using gunpowder and compressed air to propel graphite discs at 15,000 mph (24,100 km/h) against a wall — Lonsdalete It usually forms only when asteroids hit Earth at extremely high speeds.

Regarding the “Diablo Canyon” meteorite diamond, scientists noticed an unusual phenomenon during the analysis Lonsdalete in the meteorite. For example, they discovered the growth of another carbon material called graphene that interacted with diamond instead of the pure hexagonal formations they had predicted.

These increases, called hard-Take the look of a particularly cool layered pattern inside the meteor. Stacking errors between these layers indicate that the layers do not line up neatly, according to the researchers’ statement.

Discovery hard meteorite Lonsdalete It raises the possibility that this resource may be widely available because it can be found in other carbon materials, according to the researchers’ findings. The discovery also improves researchers’ understanding of the temperatures and pressures needed to build the structure.

Graphene consists of a carbon sheet one atom thick, arranged in hexagonal shapes. The material has many potential applications, even if research for it is still in its infancy.

The researchers said it could one day be used for more precise medical treatments, smaller electronics with ultra-fast charging speeds, or faster, more bendable technology, because it’s as light as a feather and as strong as a diamond, transparent and high. conductive, and a million times thinner than a human hair.

Meteorite Canyon Diablo
The outer surface of the meteorite. source: Jeffrey Notkin / Wikimedia Commons

Since this increase in graphene has been found inside meteorites, researchers can now learn more about how it appeared and, in turn, how it was formed in the lab.

“Through the controlled growth of the layer of the structures, it should be possible to design materials that are highly rigid and also ductile, as well as conductor-to-insulator modifiable electronic properties,” said Christoph Salzman, a chemist at University College London and co-author of a research paper describing search , He said in the statement.

The strange new structures were described on July 22, 2022 in the magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study summary:

“Studies of dense carbon materials formed by polyide effects or generated by laboratory pressure provide key information on the high-pressure behavior of carbon and for the identification and design of unique structures for technological applications. However, a major obstacle to the study and design of these materials is an incomplete understanding of their underlying structures. Here , we report the remarkable structural diversity of cube/hexagonal (c/h) stacked diamonds and their association with sp .-containing diamond graphite nanocomposites3– / s2Bonding patterns, i.e. grains, of carbon-steel materials formed by the impact of the graphite impact of the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite. We show evidence for a range of interference types and nanostructures with unusually short graphene distances (0.31 nm) and demonstrate that neglected or misinterpreted Raman bands can be associated with davit structures. Our study provides a structural understanding of the material known as lonsdaleite, previously described as hexagonal diamond, and extends this understanding to other natural and synthetic ultrahard carbon phases. The unique 3D carbon structures encountered in the shock-formed samples can place constraints on the pressure-temperature conditions experienced during impact and provide exceptional opportunities for engineering the properties of carbon nanocomposites materials and phase structures.”


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