Diamondoid: A Flawless Nanoparticle
While the name diamondoid may conjur thoughts of engagement rings and tennis bracelets, it is much more than the bling of the nanotechnology field. Diamondoid is projected to have a strength 50 times that steel. However, Diamondoid does share some structures and properties of its distant cousin, the diamond.
Diamondoid is composed of carbon atoms linked to four other carbon atoms by covalent bonds in the same lattice structure that gives the diamond in an engagement ring its strength. Unlike natural diamond, diamondoid has great strength without diamond’s naturally occurring flaws. The carbon-to-carbon covalent bonds in diamondoid result in material that has mechanical properties similar to carbon nanotubes.
You can’t run out and buy diamondoid today because it’s only in the very early stages of development. Scientists are hard at work on producing diamondoid structures by placing carbon atoms one at a time using a process called mechanosynthesis.
They will eventually be able to use mechanosynthesis to build structures, such as airplane wings, that are incredibly strong. Projections are that the strength-to-weight ratio for diamondoid will be about 50 times that of high strength steel. This property makes it possible to use diamondoid to create materials that weigh a fraction of their current weight, which could make for strong and lighter weight products such as cars and planes.