‘Flashed’ nanodiamonds are just a phase: Rice produces fluorinated nanodiamond, graphene, concentric carbon via flash Joule heating

Diamond could also be only a part carbon goes via when uncovered to a flash of warmth, however that makes it far simpler to acquire.

The Rice College lab of chemist James Tour is now in a position to “evolve” carbon via phases that embody beneficial nanodiamond by tightly controlling the flash Joule heating course of they developed 18 months in the past.

Better of all, they’ll cease the method at will to get product they need.

Within the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano, the researchers led by Tour and graduate scholar and lead creator Weiyin Chen present that including natural fluorine compounds and fluoride precursors to elemental carbon black turns it into a number of hard-to-get allotropes when flashed, together with fluorinated nanodiamonds, fluorinated turbostratic graphene and fluorinated concentric carbon.

With the flash course of launched in 2020, a robust jolt of electrical energy can flip carbon from nearly any supply into layers of pristine turbostratic graphene in lower than a second. (“Turbostratic” means the layers are usually not strongly certain to one another, making them simpler to separate in an answer.)

The brand new work exhibits it is potential to change, or functionalize, the merchandise on the identical time. The length of the flash, between 10 and 500 milliseconds, determines the ultimate carbon allotrope.


The issue lies in learn how to protect the fluorine atoms, for the reason that ultrahigh temperature causes the volatilization of all atoms aside from carbon. To beat the issue, the staff used a Teflon tube sealed with graphite spacers and high-melting-point tungsten rods, which may maintain the reactant inside and keep away from the lack of fluorine atoms below the ultrahigh temperature. The improved sealed tube is vital, Tour stated.

“In business, there was a long-standing use for small diamonds in reducing instruments and as electrical insulators,” he stated. “The fluorinated model right here gives a path to modifications of those constructions. And there’s a giant demand for graphene, whereas the fluorinated household is newly produced right here in bulk kind.”

Nanodiamonds are microscopic crystals — or areas of crystals — that show the identical carbon-atom lattice that macro-scale diamonds do. When first found within the Nineteen Sixties, they had been made below warmth and excessive strain from detonations.

In recent times, researchers have discovered chemical processes to create the identical lattices. A report from Rice theorist Boris Yakobson final yr confirmed how fluorine will help make nanodiamond with out excessive strain, and Tour’s personal lab demonstrated utilizing pulsed lasers to show Teflon into fluorinated nanodiamond.

Nanodiamonds are extremely fascinating for electronics functions, as they are often doped to function wide-bandgap semiconductors, vital parts in present analysis by Rice and the Military Analysis Laboratory.


The brand new course of simplifies the doping half, not just for nanodiamonds but additionally for the opposite allotropes. Tour stated the Rice lab is exploring using boron, phosphorous and nitrogen as components as nicely.

At longer flash occasions, the researchers obtained nanodiamonds embedded in concentric shells of fluorinated carbon. Even longer publicity transformed the diamond solely into shells, from the skin in.

“The concentric-shelled constructions have been used as lubricant components, and this flash technique may present an affordable and quick route to those formations,” Tour stated.

Co-authors of the paper are Rice graduate college students John Tianci Li, Zhe Wang, Wala Algozeeb, Emily McHugh, Kevin Wyss, Paul Advincula, Jacob Beckham and Bo Jiang, analysis scientist Carter Kittrell and alumni Duy Xuan Luong and Michael Stanford. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry in addition to a professor of pc science and of supplies science and nanoengineering at Rice.

The Air Power Workplace of Scientific Analysis and the Division of Vitality supported the analysis.