Glowing press releases and news articles in 2015 proclaimed a new allotrope of carbon. However, even the journal article is light on chemical detail (e.g. no structural formula).

  • What is its bond structure?
  • Why is it ferromagnetic? fluorescent? harder than diamond? etc?
  • Or is it an erroneous result?

Update: as of late 2020, Bhaumik & Narayan have published further papers about Q-carbon, but I still have not seen any reports of replication by others.

Ref: Jagdish Narayan and Anagh Bhaumik J. Appl. Phys. 2015, 118, 215303.

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    $\begingroup$ At this point, it is my personal belief that the experimenters at NCSU are either self-deluded or outright lying. $\endgroup$ – Foo Bar Dec 31 '17 at 13:54

There's no structural formula because it's what we call an amorphous solid. That is, it's like glass. It has no clearly defined crystal structure, and is likely to be extremely hard, but also extremely brittle.

As to why it's ferromagnetic or fluorescent, I'm unsure. It's likely they don't quite know, either. I suspect it has something to do with the curious bond structure of Q-carbon, which is a mishmash of both 3-way and 4-way bonds. In comparison, graphene is uniformly 3-way bonds, while diamond is a fairly uniform composition of 4-way bonds.

I speculate (don't quote me on this, I can't find a reliable source) that the way the electrons interact across the carbon atoms has something to do with why it illuminates (as photon emission is not an uncommon effect of electrons changing energy levels) and with why it's magnetic (as ferromagnetism explicitly refers to the quantum mechanical properties of electrons).

Either way. Please take this explanation with a grain of salt, but, if you're able to find more reliable sources, feel free to tack it on.

  • $\begingroup$ Umm . . . I'm skeptical of this answer. Sources: google.com/search?q=amorphous-carbon and google.com/search?q=diamond-cubic $\endgroup$ – Foo Bar Jun 28 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @FooBar I too think much of this answer is kind of weak. But, giving google search terms as sources for why you disagree with it doesn't really give any info as to why you are skeptical of the answer. For one thing, the same search terms will give different people different results. Then it's hard to say which result was of interest to you. Anyway, this answer is old and the poster doesn't seem to be around any more so it probably doesn't matter anyway ;) $\endgroup$ – airhuff Oct 16 '17 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @airhuff the original answer said that diamond is amorphous (see the edit history). $\endgroup$ – Foo Bar Dec 18 '17 at 18:30

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