Date of this Version
SCIENCE, VOL 337, 17 AUGUST 2012, pp. 825-828.
Solid-state materials can be categorized by their structures into crystalline (having periodic translation symmetry), amorphous (no periodic and orientational symmetry), and quasi-crystalline (having orientational but not periodic translation symmetry) phases. Hybridization of crystalline and amorphous structures at the atomic level has not been experimentally observed. We report the discovery of a long-range ordered material constructed from units of amorphous carbon clusters that was synthesized by compressing solvated fullerenes. Using x-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, and quantum molecular dynamics simulation, we observed that, although carbon-60 cages were crushed and became amorphous, the solvent molecules remained intact, playing a crucial role in maintaining the long-range periodicity. Once formed, the high-pressure phase is quenchable back to ambient conditions and is ultra-incompressible, with the ability to indent diamond.