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Diamond Nanothread’s Flaws Can Make it the Next Supermaterial

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Diamond nanothreads “may become as ubiquitous a plastic in the future, used in everything from clothing to cars,” according to a researcher who thinks they can outperform brittle carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes are hollow cylindrical tubes 10,000 times smaller than human hair. They may be stronger than steel but they are also brittle. Dr Haifei Zhan of Queensland University of Technology says that diamond nanothreads (DNT) are “even thinner, incorporating kinks of hydrogen in the carbon’s hollow structure”. He says that these Stone-Wales (SW) defects reduce brittleness and add flexibility, making DNT “a great candidate for a range of uses”.

DNT’s name refers to the way the carbon atoms are packed together like diamond, giving it phenomenal strength. “While both carbon nanotubes and DNT have great potential, the more I model DNT properties, the more it looks to be a superior material,” Zhan said.

“The SW defects give DNT a flexibility that rigid carbon nanotubes can’t replicate. Think of it as the difference between sewing with uncooked spaghetti and cooked spaghetti.

“My simulations have shown that the SW defects act like hinges, connecting straight sections of DNT. And by changing the spacing of those defects, we can a change – or tune – the flexibility of the DNT.”

The research, published in Nanoscale, adds to other results from Zhan’...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.