Super-Diamond Actually Possible After Incredible Simulation

By Matthew Flynn | Published

Diamonds have long held the title as the hardest material known to man, but recent scientific discoveries suggest that another carbon-based creation, dubbed the “super diamond,” might dethrone this reigning champion. These super diamonds, unlike their traditional counterparts, are composed of a distinctive carbon phase known as the eight-atom body-centered cubic (BC8) crystal.

The BC8 Super Diamond

Unlike regular diamonds, BC8 is a unique phase of carbon that demonstrates a significantly higher resistance to compression – about 30 percent greater than a diamond. This might earn the BC8 the title of a super diamond if it could be recovered under ambient conditions.

Another fascinating aspect about the super diamond is its predicted stability. The BC8 carbon phase, which comprises the super diamond, is theoretically speculated to be the most robust and stable carbon phase under high pressures, surpassing even ten million atmospheres. Such resilience would categorize BC8 as a material tougher than diamond, making it a groundbreaking discovery for the scientific community.

A Connection To Exoplanets


Why are these super diamonds significant, you might ask? First, their existence indicates the presence of carbon-rich exoplanets. These celestial bodies are characterized by their considerable mass, which allows them to withstand massive high pressures. Under these extreme conditions, structural forms of carbon, like diamond and BC8, could form. Consequently, understanding the properties of the BC8 carbon phase becomes crucial for developing accurate interior models of these exoplanets — a major advancement in astrophysical research.

Scientists Use A Supercomputer To Simulate The Super Diamond

However, the road to creating a super diamond is more theoretical than experimental at this stage. Numerous efforts to synthesize this elusive crystal phase have not been successful, but new research using the world’s fastest exascale supercomputer, Frontier, has yielded promising results.

Unveiled in 2022, Frontier has revolutionized computing as we know it, reaching unprecedented speeds and efficiency levels which have allowed for the super diamond research. Proudly holding the title as the world’s fastest supercomputer, Frontier is powered by the formidable strength of AMD CPUs and GPUs.

This supercomputer boasts an Rmax of 1.102 exaFLOPS, capable of performing a staggering 1.102 quintillion floating-point operations per second. While there has been some concern about the energy consumption of supercomputers, Frontier set a new standard in energy efficiency, Frontier topped the Green500 list until November 2022.

Closer To Synthesizing These Diamonds

Harnessing the power of Frontier, scientists were able to conduct multi-million atomic molecular-dynamics simulations with unprecedented quantum accuracy, revealing unique insights into the behavior of carbon at extreme pressures and temperatures.

The significant contribution of this research lies in its prediction that BC8 carbon can only form within a very narrow, high-pressure, high-temperature region. Knowing these precise conditions, future synthetic attempts of BC8 carbon, the super diamond, might finally achieve success.

The Key To Understanding Carbon-Rich Planets

system Gliese 667

The super diamond stands as a significant scientific exploration today, not merely for its potential to become a material tougher than diamond, but also for the role it plays in understanding carbon-rich exoplanets. Now that scientists have discerned the specific high-pressure, high-temperature conditions for its formation, the creation of a BC8 super diamond in a lab is a tantalizing possibility. As we wait to see what becomes of the experiments, the quest for the super diamond continues to inspire researchers across the world.

Source: The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

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