Hello,

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

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

Not a subscriber? 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

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Print + All Access Digital.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    The MIT Technology Review App

/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.