Diamond is well known as the strongest of all natural materials. But hardness has a downside – fragility. A team of researchers from MIT , Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea managed to develop a technology that allows to bend and stretch this mineral.
Scientists have grown from crystals diamond needles the size of just over 2 micrometers, which can be bent and stretched by 9% without breaking, and then return to its original form. Usually diamond can stretch less than 1%.
“We have developed a unique nanomechanical approach for precise control and quantification of elastic deformation in nanodiamond samples,” said Jan Lu, senior co-author and associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at CUHK.
Researchers measured the ability to deform diamond needles by observing in an electron microscope , as a tip of a nanoindentor (in the shape of a polyhedron vertex) pressed on the needles. After experimental tests using this system, scientists made many detailed simulations to explain the results.
They were able to accurately determine that a needle consisting of a single crystal can withstand without breaking tensile stress from 89 to 98 gigapascals. In this case, it is stretched by 9%, and then returns to its original form. And if the needle consisted of several diamond crystals, the value of maximum deformation decreased more than 2 times.
The scientists noted that during the experiments diamond needles can also have unique thermal, optical, magnetic, electrical and chemical properties.
The results of the study can be used to create various devices based on diamonds – for the manufacture of medical probes, biocompatible carriers for drug delivery to cancer cells or used in optoelectronics.
Read more about the development here .