Q-Carbon: Graphene’s more useful sibling.

It seems like once a week we hear about some new miracle substance, or some amazing new battery technology that’s going to change the world. Most of the time these “miracle” discoveries either fade away along with the hype, or they prove too difficult to make any use of.

Q-Carbon, a new phase of Carbon discovered by Researchers from North Carolina State University, seems to fall into the category of miracle substance. It’s harder than Diamond glows in the dark, is easy to make, and it makes Diamond easier to make as well. So far, no real difficulties with making or using the substance have cropped up.

That’s good news, because Q-carbon has the potential to boost several industries, from Diamond manufacturing, to display technology production. On its own, Q-carbon is already harder than Diamond, which could be useful in many settings, the one that immediately pops to mind is the shaping of diamonds themselves.

Then there’s the glow in the dark bit. Q-carbon has the useful attribute of glowing in the presence of even very small amounts of energy. This has great potential in display technology, especially when considered in light of the fact that mobile devices are increasingly spending their battery budgets on bigger an higher resolution displays.

Creating Q-carbon is also very easy. Coat a substrate with amorphous carbon (elemental Carbon with no crystalline shape) then hit the carbon with a sufficiently powerful laser pulse to heat the carbon to 4000°k, then cool the carbon rapidly. The result is a thin film of Q-carbon. The entire process takes place in normal atmosphere under normal atmospheric pressure. This means that anybody with some amorphous carbon and a cosmetics grade laser can create their own Q-carbon.

The same process can also be used to create diamonds. By altering the laser pulse length, changing the underlying substrate, and adjusting the cooling duration, researchers are able to create diamond structures within the Q-carbon film. Micro needles with applications in drug delivery, Diamond micro dots, and large films of Diamond. All of which have multiple uses in many industries.

Hopefully, with some more research into applications, we could be seeing the benefits of Q-carbon in many of our day to day objects with minimal work in the industry. Now if only someone could get graphene off the ground.

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