During the study of diamonds in ancient meteorites, scientists discovered unprecedented microscopic crystal structures. This special structure is a graphite-diamond interlocking structure. The uniqueness may be used to develop new electronic products or high-speed charging devices.
The Diablo Canyon meteorite that hit the earth 50,000 years ago was first discovered in 1891. The diamonds in the meteorite are not a form familiar to most people.
In contrast, the diamonds in this meteorite are called Lansdaleites, and because of their crystal structure, they are called hexagonal diamonds, named after British crystallographer Catherine Lansdale.
These crystals can only be formed under extremely high pressure and high temperature. Although the crystals were successfully reproduced in the laboratory, this crystal structure is generally only formed when meteorites hit the earth at extremely high speeds.
When studying lansdaleite in meteorites, researchers found that graphene, a carbon-based material, is intercalated with diamonds to form a peculiar layering pattern, with “stacking faults” between the layers, which cannot be perfectly arranged.
Graphene is composed of single-atom thick carbon sheets arranged in a hexagonal shape. Although various studies are still in progress, it is as light as a feather and as strong as a diamond. It is both transparent and highly conductive, 1 million times thinner than a human hair.
It could one day be developed into more efficient or smaller electronics. Researchers have discovered that this type of graphene can be formed in meteorites. The next step is to understand the formation process and find a way to replicate it in the laboratory.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.