The flexibility of the carbon atom in forming covalent bonds with different hybridisation states leads to carbon solids that exhibit a range of useful properties, from the extreme hardness of diamond to the extreme ‘slipperiness’ of graphite. In recent years a series of studies have been conducted to better understand the high-pressure transformation process between sp2 bonded graphitic precursor materials to the sp3 bonded diamond phase of carbon. The aim of my work is to use disordered and amorphous carbon materials as precursors in order to form new phases of carbon using less extreme pressures.
The disordered precursor material that is at the centre of my research is glassy carbon (GC). This material is a predominately sp2 bonded solid which is manufactured by the high temperature decomposition of certain cross-linked polymers.