Russian scientists have discerned the structure of liquid carbon
Scientists from the Joint Institute for High Temperatures of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology (MIPT) have described the structure of liquid carbon at the nanoscale for the first time. The study was carried out using supercomputer simulation methods. The findings were published in the Carbon Magazine, which was founded in 1964.

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The purpose of the study was to explore the properties of the liquid phase of carbon; unlike the solid modifications (diamond, graphite, nanotubes), it is still poorly understood. This is due to high melting point of graphite, which is estimated in the range from 3400 to 6400 degrees Celsius. It is impossible to find a crucible (special-purpose container) to hold it. The Russian scientists were able to overcome this limitation using the supercomputer modeling methods, which can help predict the behaviour of carbon atoms at high temperatures. According to the figures obtained, liquid carbon will seriously alter its structure at a certain pressure range, becoming similar to a mixture of linear sp-hybridised chains that are one atom thick.

Hybridisation is the process of mixing the atomic orbitals with atomic or diverse substance, which yields new identical orbitals. Hybridisation types differ as to the angle between the hybrid orbitals: it equals 180 degrees with sp hybridisation, and with sp3 and sp2 hybridisation it equals 109.5 and 120 degrees, respectively. According to a hypothesis put forward in the middle of the 20th century, sp-hybridised chains can form carbyne, one of the phases of solid carbon. Scientists from the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology and the Joint Institute for High Temperatures of the Russian Academy of Sciences came to the conclusion that under certain conditions, the structural motifs of carbyne can be observed in the liquid phase of carbon.

The research data can yield new methods of high-temperature synthesis of carbon nanoparticles; those can be used to create nanopreparations delivering medicine agents into cells and tissues when other methods fail.


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