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Stretching diamonds? Diamonds are known as the hardest natural material on earth that cannot break. But researchers from MIT in Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea found a way where diamonds are grown in extremely tiny needle-like shapes. In this form, the diamond can be bent and stretched while going back to the original shape.

Ordinary diamonds are not able to bend and can only withstand stresses of well below 1% – any higher will make them break. The needle nano-diamonds created by the scientists can stretch by as much as 9%. The postdoc at the MIT Daniel Bernouli shared in a statement that it was very surprising to see the amount of elastic deformation the nano-diamond could sustain.

This scanning electron microscope image shows ultrafine diamond needles (cone shapes rising from bottom) being pushed on by a diamond tip (dark shape at top). These images reveal that the diamond needles can bend as much as 9 percent and still return to their original shape. (Credit: MIT)

How will needle nano-diamonds help us?

The discovery of needle nano-diamonds is an opportunity to have bendy diamond jewelry but there are many more interesting purposes. For example in sensing devices, data storage, biocompatible viv0 imaging or delivering drugs into cancer cells.

Forbes shares in a recent release that the MIT team used a chemical vapor deposit process to grow the diamonds and then etched them into their needle shape – a bit like the bristles of a toothbrush but much, much smaller. Then they pressed down on their creations with a standard nano-indenter diamond tip to see how much they could take.

“The surprise finding of ultralarge elastic deformation in a hard and brittle material — diamond — opens up unprecedented possibilities for tuning its optical, optomechanical, magnetic, phononic, and catalytic properties through elastic strain engineering,” said Yonggang Huang, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, who was not involved in this research.

Read the full story at MIT news, here

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