Shocking Carbon

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Science  19 Dec 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5909, pp. 1753
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5909.1753l

Diamond is thought of as the usual high-pressure phase of carbon. At extreme temperatures and pressures however, it may melt, or transform to a proposed higher pressure bc8 phase. Knudson et al. (p. 1822) use a combination of theoretical calculations and magnetically driven shock-wave experiments to map out the phase behavior of carbon under shock conditions. Because of the large lateral area of the flyer plates, the data shows an order of magnitude improvement in accuracy over existing experimental data. The results clarify the carbon phase boundaries and suggest that there might be a triple point, where the three phases coexist. Carbon under high pressure and temperature is of interest in the study of planets like Neptune and Uranus and in the possible use of carbon materials for inertial fusion confinement.

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