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Science. 2003 Oct 17;302(5644):425-7.

Bonding changes in compressed superhard graphite.

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  • 1Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Compressed under ambient temperature, graphite undergoes a transition at approximately 17 gigapascals. The near K-edge spectroscopy of carbon using synchrotron x-ray inelastic scattering reveals that half of the pi-bonds between graphite layers convert to sigma-bonds, whereas the other half remain as pi-bonds in the high-pressure form. The x-ray diffraction pattern of the high-pressure form is consistent with a distorted graphite structure in which bridging carbon atoms between graphite layers pair and form sigma-bonds, whereas the nonbridging carbon atoms remain unpaired with pi-bonds. The high-pressure form is superhard, capable of indenting cubic-diamond single crystals.

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