No pressure, no diamonds: Extreme processing to make precious materials
Dr. Khachatur Manukyan
Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame
The diamond, the gemstone we admire for its beauty and rarity, is a metastable form of carbon and needs harsh conditions to metamorphize from coal. Many metals and refractory compounds could also exist in such structures, and, like the diamond, they could hold superior properties compared to their more stable counterparts. However, these materials do not exist in nature. We mimic nature’s diamond-making conditions applied to a novel spontaneous crystallization process to obtain metastable materials. I will talk about the fundamental questions behind spontaneous crystallization. I will also show our results in preparing actinide thin films and exploring their disorder-order transitions under extreme conditions, including high-energy ion irradiation. Finally, I will highlight the developments in tailoring the properties of new materials to be used in energy and defense-related applications.