Are the latest high-pressure materials the future?
Research by scientists from the University of Linköping
What tools do we use in the process of creating unusual materials?
Before discussing an interesting experiment carried out by scientists from the University of Linköping, let us introduce some facts in the field of chemistry. First of all, let us note that most chemical compounds and other materials are able to change their original properties due to high pressure or temperature. The best example of this is the diamond we all know. Although this process takes place naturally, it is great that scientists are inspired in their research by phenomena that we observe in nature. But let’s get back to the diamond. Before it becomes a noble and expensive aggregate, it originally occurs as organic carbon. It is then compressed for a very long time by pressure from the depths of the Earth, which in effect creates a gemstone. Laboratory technicians do the same with other materials, subjecting them to factors such as high pressure. Will the latest materials created by high pressure find their application? Probably yes! Primarily in computer science, robotics and advanced electronics industry and in application development.
Researchers using the above technique prepared a new material. Its synthesis turned out to be possible thanks to the method of creating high pressure, three times higher than inside the Earth. The main originator of the study is Igor Abrikosov, who also commented in the scientific journal Nature:
“According to our theoretical modelling, it should be possible to discover completely new materials at pressures as high as one terapascal – three times the pressure at the center of the Earth. But until now, technology has limited the possibilities.”
He also noted that until now, researchers had only used 200 gigapascals, thanks to a process called high-pressure crystallography. Thanks to the creativity of scientists from Bayreuth University in cooperation with Linköping University, they developed a modern method. Thanks to it, we can create new materials at up to 900 gigapascals!
During laboratory research on obtaining new materials due to high pressure, the researchers used:
- so-called two-stage anvil cell made of diamond.
For the first time, using the above tools in ultra-high pressure conditions, it was possible to obtain an alloy of rhenium and nitrogen. Rhenium nitride was also synthesized. They are no longer just products of the imagination of scientists, but real products! Natalia Durovinskaia, a professor at the University of Bayreuth, is optimistic about the future of this research. According to her:
“If we use high-pressure crystallography in the terapascal range in the future, we may make further surprising discoveries. The door is now wide open for creative research into materials that generate and visualize unexpected structures under extreme conditions.”
Kolejne kroki w badaniach, jakie musimy podjąć to doprowadzenie ich do perfekcji, tak by wiele materiałów wskutek wysokiego ciśnienia i nacisku nie rozpadło się. Jeśli naukowcy nad tym zapanują i odpowiednio zhartują te nowe substancje, to istnieje szansa na wykorzystanie nowo powstałych materiałów w różnych aplikacjach.