Report

Long-Range Ordered Carbon Clusters: A Crystalline Material with Amorphous Building Blocks

Science  17 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6096, pp. 825-828
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220522

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Abstract

Solid-state materials can be categorized by their structures into crystalline (having periodic translation symmetry), amorphous (no periodic and orientational symmetry), and quasi-crystalline (having orientational but not periodic translation symmetry) phases. Hybridization of crystalline and amorphous structures at the atomic level has not been experimentally observed. We report the discovery of a long-range ordered material constructed from units of amorphous carbon clusters that was synthesized by compressing solvated fullerenes. Using x-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, and quantum molecular dynamics simulation, we observed that, although carbon-60 cages were crushed and became amorphous, the solvent molecules remained intact, playing a crucial role in maintaining the long-range periodicity. Once formed, the high-pressure phase is quenchable back to ambient conditions and is ultra-incompressible, with the ability to indent diamond.

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