A new phase transformation path from nanodiamond to new-diamond via an intermediate carbon onion†
The investigation of carbon allotropes such as graphite, diamond, fullerenes, nanotubes and carbon onions and mechanisms that underlie their mutual phase transformation is a long-standing problem of great fundamental importance. New diamond (n-diamond) is a novel metastable phase of carbon with a face-centered cubic structure; it is called “new diamond” because many reflections in its electron diffraction pattern are similar to those of diamond. However, producing n-diamond from raw carbon materials has so far been challenging due to n-diamond's higher formation energy than that of diamond. Here, we, for the first time, demonstrate a new phase transformation path from nanodiamond to n-diamond via an intermediate carbon onion in the unique process of laser ablation in water, and establish that water plays a crucial role in the formation of n-diamond. When a laser irradiates colloidal suspensions of nanodiamonds at ambient pressure and room temperature, nanodiamonds are first transformed into carbon onions serving as an intermediate phase, and sequentially carbon onions are transformed into n-diamonds driven by the laser-induced high temperature and high pressure from the carbon onion as a nanoscaled temperature and pressure cell upon the process of laser irradiation in a liquid. This phase transformation not only provides new insight into the physical mechanism involved, but also offers one suitable opportunity for breaking controllable pathways between n-diamond and carbon allotropes such as diamond and carbon onions.