A research group created in international cooperation with research institutions has created the most difficult substance known to mankind. The material is called AM-III carbon and is similar to glass made of carbon. The production process was published in the National Science Review.
The aim of the business was to produce high-strength glass from scratch. This was based on so-called fullerenes, molecular balls of carbon atoms named after architect Buckminster Fuller. Fullerenes were pressed at very high temperatures and tremendous pressures to give a yellowish, glassy substance, harder than diamond.
Photo: National Science Review
Diamond, known as the hardest material, also forms at high temperatures and pressures inside the Earth. The hardness of the diamond was 70-100 GPa according to the Vickers test, but the AM-III carbon had a hardness of 113 GPa, which was enough to make an amazing scratch on the surface of the diamond during the tests.
The secret of diamond’s hardness lies in the perfect crystal structure of the material. However, AM-III carbon is an amorphous, glass-like material. According to legend, glass is actually a liquid – in fact, a solid is neither a solid nor a liquid, which is why it is called amorphous. This also means that the atoms in the cup can move very slowly, albeit very slowly. The reason for this phenomenon is that the material becomes very cold when it is cooled, that is, it freezes without crystallizing, like, for example, ice.
In the name of the new material, “AM” means amorphous, which makes it more like glass than diamond.
Due to the special properties of amorphous carbon that is ten times stronger than steel, it can be used in a relatively wide range, including as a semiconductor or in photovoltaic devices. It can be used to make armored glass 20 or even a hundred times stronger than current glass, so the bulletproof vest won’t be the last.