Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Emerging Technology from the arXiv

A View from Emerging Technology from the arXiv

How To Turn Carbon Onions Into Oysters

Bombard carbon nanotubes with radiation and tiny diamonds begin to grow. Now physicists think they now why

  • September 23, 2010

How on earth can concentric carbon nanotubes turn into diamond after an intense bomabrdement of radiation? That’s the question that physicists have been struggling with since observing this phenomenon during the last decade or so.

Today, we get a full theoretical description of what’s going on thanks to a model built by Michael Zaiser and Stefan Chartier at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

They say that the radiation bombardment knocks entire atoms out of the structure of nanotubes, causing the resulting defects to ricochet through the structure. This makes the structure bend and buckle, eventually forming into carbon spheres.

In fact, under intense radiation bombardment, this process turns multiwall nanotubes into carbon onions, ie concentric spheres.

As more atoms are knocked out of the structure, the spheres shrink, placing enormous streeses on the layers beneath. It is this stress that eventually causes diamond to form at the centre of the onion. “The resulting pressures are sufficient to explain the nucleation of diamond in irradiated carbon onions,” say Zaiser and Chartier

And when that happens, the carbon onion has clearly become a carbon oyster (of kinds)!

Ref: http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.4035: Irradiated Carbon Nanostructures as Nanoscopic Pressure Cells

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.