Dr Haifei Zhan from QUT’s Science and Engineering Faculty is leading a global effort to identify how many ways humanity can use a newly-invented material with enormous potential – diamond nanothread (DNT). First created by Pennsylvania State University in 2015, one-dimensional DNT is similar to carbon nanotubes, hollow cylindrical tubes 10,000 times smaller than human hair, stronger than steel – but brittle.
Dr Zhan has discovered that incorporating kinks of hydrogen in the carbon’s hollow structure, called Stone-Wale (SW) transformation defects, reduces brittleness and adds flexibility to the material making it a great candidate for a range of uses. Dr Zhan has been modelling the properties of DNT since it was invented, using large-scale molecular dynamics simulations and high-performance computing.
It’s possible DNT may become as ubiquitous a plastic in the future, used in everything from clothing to cars.