In a science essay in the November 1999 edition of Analog magazine by Stephen L. Gillett¹, Gillett speculated on the possibility of a compound he dubbed "diamond ether". The name derived from the fact that it would have the same structure as diamond only with an intervening oxygen atom replacing the C-C bonds with C-O-C bonds. Or to describe it another way, it would be the carbon analog of the silicate mineral cristobalite. Gillet gave as a limited example an organic compound which consisted of a central carbon atom with four ether bonds to four organic side chains. The question is whether that structure could be repeated indefinitely. Would this be energetically impossible due to bond strains or could it at least be metastable?

¹Diamond ether, nanotechnology - and Venus Authors: Gillett, Stephen L. Source: Analog Science Fiction & Fact. Nov, 1999, Vol. 119 Issue 11, p38, 9 p. Publisher Information: Dell Magazines, 1999. Publication Year: 1999 Subject Terms: Planets -- Environmental engineering Venus (Planet) -- Atmosphere Literature/writing Description: Methods by which Venus can be terraformed are presented with emphasis on new ideas. The problems of achieving this environmental engineering project are discussed and the hypothetical substance of diamond ether is described. ISSN: 1059-2113 Rights: Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved. Accession Number: edsgcl.67008930 Database: Gale General OneFile

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    $\begingroup$ Not that I think it very important, but most people I know would call this an inorganic compound $\endgroup$
    – Ian Bush
    Mar 19 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ "Can it exist" is a different question to "can it exist under normal conditions?" The problem under normal conditions isn't likely to be bond strain; it is the existence of strong carbon-oxygen double bonds and easy pathways to generate those from carbon-oxygen single bonds. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Mar 19 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


Take a look at Santoro, M., Gorelli, F., Bini, R. et al. Amorphous silica-like carbon dioxide. Nature 441, 857–860 (2006).

Quoting from the abstract

Here we report the synthesis of an amorphous, silica-like form of carbon dioxide, a-CO2, which we call ‘a-carbonia’. The compression of the molecular phase III of CO2 between 40 and 48 GPa at room temperature initiated the transformation to the non-molecular amorphous phase.


Comparison with vibrational and diffraction data for a-SiO2 and a-GeO2, as well as with the structure factor calculated for the a-CO2 sample obtained by first-principles molecular dynamics, shows that a-CO2 is structurally homologous to the other group IV dioxide glasses. We therefore conclude that the class of archetypal network-forming disordered systems, including a-SiO2, a-GeO2 and water, must be extended to include a-CO2.

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    $\begingroup$ So, possible but only under extreme conditions. $\endgroup$
    – matt_black
    Mar 19 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but not totally absurd - 48GPa is appreciably less than the maximum pressure in the Earth's mantle, we're not talking supermassive black holes here. $\endgroup$
    – Ian Bush
    Mar 19 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ However, we cannot assume existence within Earth itself because the carbon dioxide is polymerized at room temperature. Under the hotter temperature in the mantle it could still be fluid instead. In the case of water we know that the high-pressure phase (Ice VII) can be included in diamonds that come to the surface and cool off, but including a-CO2 in this way appears to require more pressure than even diamond can sustain. $\endgroup$ Mar 19 at 22:17

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